At the beginning of the course, I considered myself someone who enjoyed games but who knew very little about the world of games as a whole. I lacked a knowledge of game genres, and as the class progressed, I realized my lack of being a “gamer” more and more. However, looking back now that CS247G is complete, all of the activities that I was able to engage with, whether that be lectures, sketchnoting, doing critical plays, or working with a team to create a game myself, helped me grow and learn.
One of the key aspects of my “gamer growth” was playing a wide range of games and conducting critical plays for each of these. This allowed me to develop a designer’s mindset, enabling me to analyze games more deeply and provide thoughtful critiques. Additionally, I gained knowledge about game categorization, understanding how different games fit into specific genres or types. Critical plays introduced me to many new games and allowed me to hone my eye as a designer. They also allowed me to dive into formal game elements and explore how designers employ them to achieve desired outcomes. By analyzing games, I learned to identify and understand the elements present, appreciating the thought processes behind their inclusion in the game architecture. Out of all the various elements, I think I fell most in love with the element of story and the power of crafting a compelling narrative upon which to build an entire game. Overall, I developed a more nuanced understanding of the user/player perspective, allowing me to approach design with a holistic mindset.
Running playtests and documenting the process taught me the value of frequent testing and the importance of maintaining detailed records throughout the development cycle. I think this process is important and transfers to many different fields and jobs – it is important to document a project and how it changes over time while being able to ground those changes in real evidence from actual users (or players in our case). It was challenging and time consuming to put together comprehensive final reports for the projects, but I’m grateful for the process and what it taught me, and I feel confident that this experience will come in handy in my career.
My favorite part of the class was being able to work with a team of intelligent and passionate people to make fun games and watch people play them and enjoy themselves. Working in teams often comes with some hiccups as people come in with distinct personalities and work styles. Team conflict posed the opportunity to learn how to approach conflict resolution and how to keep working towards a deadline despite personal problems. This class also gave me the chance to work on a team of people that is honestly one of the best teams I’ve worked with here at Stanford (and I’m a fifth year so I’ve worked with a lot of teams) – big shoutout to Christina, Flynn, and Steven! It was awesome to see others’ creativity on display and to learn from one another while creating a cool final product that others found fun!
Overall, I can honestly say I learned a whole lot about games, the designer perspective, how to test and iterate, and how to work better in teams. I’m grateful I took CS247G and feel proud of the games and fun I helped to create! 🙂