Chinat’s Final Reflections

Before this class, my perspective on board game design was narrow and somewhat skeptical. I saw it as a complex and arduous endeavor, requiring a fully realized idea from the start. The thought of designing board games was a distant dream, something I relegated to a possible retirement hobby.

However, this course reshaped my entire outlook and approach to game design. The hands-on activities and the collaborative environment were particularly transformative.

One significant aspect of my learning was rapid prototyping. We started with basic tools like index cards, which allowed us to focus on the game mechanics rather than getting bogged down in details. This process evolved, as we incorporated card sleeves and more detailed elements, teaching me the value of iterative development.

Working alongside strong personalities was another crucial aspect of my learning. Contrary to having team members who readily agreed with my ideas, I encountered individuals who challenged and pushed back on my concepts. This dynamic forced me to consider multiple perspectives and refine my ideas, enhancing the end product.

Playtesting extensively to fine-tune game mechanics was a valuable lesson in practicality. I learned that theoretical planning has its limits and that real-world testing is key to understanding a game’s dynamics and player interactions.

Now, let’s delve into the specific games that were part of this journey:

  1. Animal Kingdom: This was a political-themed game that required strategic alliances and betrayals. Working with a team that had different views on gameplay and mechanics led to a game rich in complexity and player engagement. The push-and-pull of ideas within the team mirrored the political intrigue within the game itself.
  2. Values and Temptations (Bugs and Drugs): This game was a venture into exploring moral dilemmas and decision-making. Originally, I had a clear vision of how it should play out, but the actual playtesting revealed several flaws in my concept. The game evolved significantly through feedback and collaborative redesigning, teaching me the value of flexibility and adaptation in game design.
  3. CS Design Game: This game was an attempt to integrate computer science concepts into a board game format. While it seemed engaging in theory, the practical playtesting highlighted the challenges in balancing educational content with entertainment. The feedback from this game was crucial in understanding the importance of audience targeting and game pacing.

Through these experiences, I gleaned several key insights:

  1. Quantity Leads to Quality: The more games we created, the more we learned. Not all ideas were successful, but the process of creation and iteration led to better designs. The three games I contributed to were distinctly different, each presenting unique challenges, whether in thematics, targeting the right audience, or execution of aesthetics.
  2. Best Games Rise from Unexpected Collaborations: Some games that seemed fun in theory fell flat during playtests. Conversely, games developed through challenging collaborations, like ‘Animal Kingdom,’ a complex political game, turned out to be more engaging. This pattern wasn’t unique to my experience; other successful games, such as ‘Capital Hill,’ were enriched by ideas from unexpected sources, including passionate fans.

Through the process of creating two board games and an interactive fiction game, I’ve come to an empowering realization: I don’t need to wait until retirement or some distant future to become a board game designer. This hands-on experience has significantly boosted my confidence in my design abilities, transforming what once seemed like distant dreams into immediate possibilities. While I recognize the need to further hone and refine certain skills, particularly in UX/UI design, I am now more excited than ever about my potential for growth and development in this field. These challenges no longer appear as insurmountable obstacles but rather as achievable goals, marking my journey in the realm of game design.

In future game design projects, I intend to implement structured timelines and deadlines, inspired by the effectiveness of rapid prototyping in this course. Building a team with complementary skills will be a priority to ensure a holistic approach to game development. Additionally, establishing a consistent group of playtesters will be crucial for obtaining diverse feedback and refining game mechanics.

In conclusion, this class has been a significant turning point. It transformed my view of game design from a distant dream to an immediate reality. The hands-on experience, coupled with the insights gained from collaborative and iterative processes, has equipped me with the necessary tools and motivation to pursue game design with earnest passion.

Citations for ChatGPT disclosure: Assistance in ideation, understanding of source material, and writing refinement provided by ChatGPT, a machine learning model by OpenAI.

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