When I was younger, I used to love playing video games; I would spend hours playing Pokemon, Super Smash Bros, Assassin’s Creed, League of Legends (unfortunately), various types of rhythm games, etc. after school, especially with my older brother. When my brother left for college though, I found myself playing less and less, and by the time I entered high school, I was barely playing anything at all. However, during quarantine, I bought a Switch and refound my love for video games with Breath of the Wild, especially for more narrative driven games.
I originally wanted to take this class because of this rekindled love for video games, but I didn’t really understand what it meant to design a game. Throughout the course of this class though, I definitely learned what creating and looking at games through the lens of a designer meant. One of the concepts I enjoyed learning about the most was the 8 kinds of fun, mainly because I was able to recognize them all in games I’ve played before. When I played Super Meat Boy when I was young, for example, I enjoyed it because it was a challenge type of fun, and when I played The Sims, it was an expression type of fun.
I also really enjoyed learning about the power of narratives. I realized that many of the games I enjoy the most have very strong narratives (e.g. Red Dead Redemption, Undertale, Tears of the Kingdom), so it was interesting to learn about the various ways narratives can shape the game experience. Because of this, I was very conscious of how I was implementing narrative into my P2 and how I could use challenges to further the narrative rather than just having them there for the challenge.
One challenge I experienced a lot throughout this class was deciding what to do after receiving feedback from playtests, especially in P2. I found that very often, other players didn’t react to something the way I intended them to, especially players who didn’t have as much experience playing video games. When inexperienced players and experienced players had split opinions about something in the game, it was always a struggle trying to decide whether we should change our approaches or go with the original idea, and I honestly am not sure if we were able to strike a good balance.
Because of this class, I think I’ve found a new appreciation for games from being able to look at games through the lens of a designer. The class concepts we’ve learned now help me to dissect video games, which is honestly a pretty fun and cool experience. I’m not sure if I’ll keep working on video games in the future, but I’m definitely going to keep trying to play games through this different designer lens! (I would love to take that video game coding class though if it’s offered next year 😊)