Final Reflection


Earlier this year, a friend recommended Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow under the premise that it would be a novel about video games. At first, I was hesitant and made judgments based on my own negative perceptions of mainstream video games. I imagined it to be a book that was riddled with computer science jargon, devoid of emotion, and ultimately soulless. However, it was, in fact, the exact opposite of that. In reading Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, I was taken through an emotional journey and exploration of not just the characters but also the role, artfulness, and significance of games in our lives. 

Similarly, I approached this class with doubt and initially thought it would only focus on the fine details of how games are engineered to teach others – or focus on gamification techniques in services such as duolingo. Just like reading through Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow however, I was eventually proven wrong. Throughout the class, we’ve gone beyond just the technical components of a game and have learned about the power of narrative and emotion. More importantly, we’ve learned how games can be more than just a “game” as perceived by the general public. Much like how Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow leverages the concept of video games as a medium for exploring characters and their relationships with others, I now know for certain that games can be a medium in itself that is used to explore and teach meaningful stories and systems.

Nonetheless, it would be remiss of me If I didn’t detail how I got to this point. To summarize how I arrived at this conclusion, I believe that each project provided new insights and learnings that transformed my view on games.


The first project I worked on was Olympic Resistance, a competitive resource-based game about Greek mythology. With the first iteration of the game centering around disaster prevention, it took many iterations and playtests to arrive at the core mechanics and themes relevant to the learning of Greek mythology. Through insights from playtests and foundational learnings such as MDAO, we were able to identify components that work well as well as aspects that don’t work quite as well. From this, I learned about the value of testing, especially in games where the behavior can be unpredictable and unique to each player and each group of players. Furthermore, I also learned to be more appreciative of board games for how beautiful, tactile, connective they can be.

In addition to being the first project I worked on, Olympic Resistance was also the last project I worked on. In refining the game with my team, I learned how difficult it is to balance a game, especially one with 30+ unique cards and abilities. Furthermore, I learned how far a set of refined rules and game pieces like playmats can go in improving player experience. Reflecting on the evolution of P1 to P4, it’s incredible to see how our team’s shared interest in literature and mythology blossomed into a fully realized board game. It’s bittersweet to think that I ended where I started, and to reflect on all the inspiring and impressive work my teammates have put into Olympic Resistance.


P2 was a pivotal project for me and really changed how I think about games and my own agency as a game designer. In working on P2, I listened to a lot of music and drew on books, movies, games, and my own past for inspiration. It was an inherently personal project, and by the end of it I felt like my game had become a reflection of the stories I want to tell and why I want to tell them. This process of embedding identity into a game became the most powerful takeaway for me, and one that I felt was elegantly highlighted by having each student create their own interactive fiction. Furthermore, I was able to take away learnings about procedural rhetoric and how games can capitalize on using exploration for learning.


For the systems project, my team went in with the idea of creating a satirical game. At the time, I honestly had no clue what a satirical systems game would resemble – or how we could embed learning into a satirical game. Eventually, however, our team was able to craft a satirical systems game about social media culture that surprised me in so many ways. First, the game elicited an abundance of laughter, and it was rewarding to look over while playtesting or notetaking and see just how much players enjoyed the game. Next, systems games were introduced in class as games that could lead to emergent gameplay, so it was cool to witness the amount of unexpectedness and creativity that players brought into the mix. Lastly, many playtesters voiced that they understood the relationship between the game and the system – or loved how it allowed them to discuss certain topics. In facing these surprises, I’ve learned that systems games are ultimately defined by the relationships between mechanics. I’ve learned that they can indeed be fun and silly – as long as they are designed with relationships that provide a glimpse into a system.


I think there’s something special about the way this class works and how play is placed at the core of learning. It made coming to class exciting, and I was genuinely able to learn something new with every game played while sharing so many laughs with my classmates. Every lecture by Christina or Amy – or Kunwoo – felt like a meaningful one and I truly learned so much.

In envisioning a future career, I’ve always mentioned that I’m interested in using technology to empower storytelling, learning, and communities. Although, in listing these things, I’ve always only been able to imagine a path that tackles one or the other – never all three. However, after taking 377G, I now feel stronger than ever that working on games provides me the opportunity to use my skills to realize all of these goals. After this course, I now know for certain that games will play a large role in shaping what I do :).

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