I genuinely enjoyed this class. It pushed me to think outside of my comfort zone and rethink games as a fun concept into an educational and broadly applicable one. I found it to be informative and helpful outside of the context of games as well. It was also uniquely taught and independently led which forced me as a student to take learning into my own hands. Before the class, I don’t think I realized the immense power of games. They have the ability to be fun and draw you in but more importantly they have the luxury of not being taken seriously which means they can fool you into learning about serious things without even realizing it. And I mean that in the best possible way. I also think that prior to this class I always assumed that making games would be easy. Sure, I knew that it involved creativity but I didn’t realize how formulaic it could be as you think through game mechanics and elements. I didn’t realize the importance of constant interaction and playtesting to make a good game. It’s not a one and done situation but rather a many, many tries situation. Before this class, I was also narrow minded in my comprehension of what constitutes a game. I never would have thought that an interactive fiction would qualify as a game (granted I’m not sure what I thought it would be categorized as). With the understanding that games have a broad definition and have the power to influence, I find myself relying on some game principles in my work as a user-focused product manager. Just the other day I caught myself thinking about some of the incremental iterative processes we discussed at large in this course while on a work call.
In the class, I found myself relying on the input of others more than any class before. This class really called out the fact that while our intuitions are valuable, they are not always correct. Without others as playtesters to give feedback, the games would never reach an optimal final form, even if we played them hundreds of times ourselves. The most useful part of the class were the formal times set up to give each other feedback and discuss our work. I wish that I had been able to take advantage of these to a fuller extent as I think it would have improved my learning as well as my output. Along the same vein, I learned how to prototype a game, from the simplest version to validate a thought to a more near-complete prototype. Another thing that I found valuable in the class was being able to work on a different type of game for each project. Between the IF, mechanics-driven system game, and teaching game we were exposed to a wide breadth of games and got to see where our strengths and weaknesses lay. Personally, the systems game was the most difficult as my brain had a hard time thinking how to piece the game together in a way that would be entertaining for the user. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the IF exercise as a nice way to get back into creative writing after many years of not being able to use that part of my brain. I also learned a bit more on how to effectively pitch. In this class, we focused on pitching our games and selling our vision to each other but I think the lesson goes far beyond this course. It’s undoubtedly a skill to be able to take your idea and distill it into a smaller and digestible story to sell to others. I really enjoyed being able to learn more about how to do it well and practice my skill.
From this class, I take with me a higher opinion of using games for different purposes. I think that I’ll consider a game style solution rather than a more traditional one more often. I’d like to one day get back into making games. Next time I make a game, I think I will focus on the principles of iteration and prototyping above all else. I think my biggest downfall would be that I have a hard time making a bad version of a thing because in my head I want the first iteration to meet some unrealistic standard. I want to shift towards a mindset of building a truly minimal MVP to get feedback and improve that way rather than waiting too long and getting too entrenched in an idea which ultimately makes it more difficult to improve. Moreover, in the future I’d like to explore making digital games as well. In this class, all of my prototypes were physical products with the exception of the IF. I want to bring gaming and coding together and learn more about how digital games are made as that is the medium of games I have most often played myself.
I’d like to conclude by saying that I really enjoyed this course and all the learnings that came with it. I hope to be able to leverage these learnings in my career and beyond. Thank you, Christina.