Coming into this class, I thought games mainly fell into two categories: family-friendly board games and male-oriented video games. I had a mental image of the kinds of people producing each of these games: wholesome Santa Clause-eqsue gamemakers handcrafting board games vs. toxic gamerboys coding up video games. And I didn’t see myself fitting into either category.
The first time I could start to see myself as someone who actually could design games was during the first project. At first, the game idea that my team had wasn’t something that I felt particularly passionate about, a mod of Beer Pong that felt too easy to create. But once we switched to a mod of Coup and everyone began pitching ideas for narratives and brainstorming game mechanics, I actually felt excited about our game and like creating something that people would want to play was actually doable. And the end result, a Greek Gods themed social deception game, was something I was proud of.
One of the course concepts that stuck with me the most was “Play like a Feminist”. I think, subconsciously, I design games that would resonate with me and my identity. When my P2 team was developing our game, we quickly moved towards a narrative that followed a bold female protagonist, but I think this was largely influenced by the large female presence on our team and how each of our individual backgrounds and perspectives became intertwined in the game. Seeing this unfold without us even intentionally aiming for a “feminist” game really drove home the point that the biggest way to make more feminist games is not necessarily aiming for an inherently feminist game but instead to include more identities in the design process.
The biggest challenge I faced in creating games, however, was not in the lack of ideas but the lack of execution. Most people engaged with the brainstorming process, piggybacking off of each others’ energy and thinking outside of the box. But once we had hammered out the details of the game, splitting up tasks and actually creating the game seemed to be the biggest obstacle. It was difficult to motivate everyone to engage in the tedious tasks necessary to make a quality game, like designing cohesive cards and materials or writing instructions. And then after we had managed to scrap together a game, iterating on the game based on playtesting was even more difficult. Having spent so much time creating something, it was hard to let go certain components and materials.
Thus, the biggest thing I learned from this class was to opt for low-fidelity versions of your game and playtest as early as possible to remain as unattached as possible to your current version and be open to adjusting based on feedback. And with my second game, my team aimed for just that–creating the first puzzle quickly and getting necessary feedback as soon as possible. We managed to iterate and land on our final game with much less resistance.
In the future for design based projects like those in this class, I aim to take the lessons of early prototyping and iteration with me. I aim to stay open-minded and not get too attached to early ideas or versions having seen just how much design can improve by changing things you might be initially attached to. And lastly, I now see a third category of game designers that is “all of the above”.