cs377g final reflection

CS 247G helped reignite my academic passion and CS377G was a great opportunity for me to further apply that passion with the skills I have been picking up. I have always believed in play’s power to teach and I think this course helped me learn how to utilize that.

During P1, we played assessment focused games and paired with the reading about MDAO, it felt like I understood the development process really well. I feel like I was able to accomplish P1’s learning goals really well, largely in part from designing with the MDAO framework in mind. I think placing an emphasis on that and always checking in with my P1 that it aligned to the framework made the process very clear. P1 was definitely the best designed part of the course. I see myself using the MDAO framework time and time again. I also shared that reading with friends who work with youth services and they were really interested in that too. 

In P2, we got to dedicate time to interactive fiction and I really enjoyed having time carved out to creatively write and read creative pieces. It would have been cool if instead of a sketchnote or notes, we played IFs from the previous years or from itch. I think just seeing different kinds of IFs was super inspiring and what kept pushing me to take mine further. It also was fun to get into my classmates’ minds like that and see what story they have living there. 

On the flip side, I think that P3: systems was more obscure and I feel like my skills need a lot more development in that area. I think at some point I felt like we were playing too many games that were conversation based. I forgot at what point of the quarter this occurred at, but I think it was during P3 since I remember having conversations with classmates about different ways to approach a systems game and all the options everyone kept throwing out were conversation-based system games. I guess that’s fine, but when I personally think about a systems game, I don’t think about a conversation based example first. I’m not sure what could have been better but I do wish that I walked away with a better understanding about how to make a well thought out systems game.

The idea of P4 was super exciting but once we finally got to it, it was so so fast. I definitely wish that the class had some kind of hookup with a wood laser engraving workshop (which could be setup somewhere with chill rules like the GSE Makery) or box making or some other workshop to learn physical crafting skills. For example, I would have loved to be able to walk away with a really nice box that doesnt have different pieces of A4 paper obviously put together. I think something that’s really cool about playing indie or new games is the cool personal touches they put in there. For example, the casting shadows game has a tower dice roller, the semi cooperative island survival game has the raft holder structure, even the in-class built game breaking my silence had a spinner that you could change the pieces of. It would have been cool if the focus on P4 was something like that as well. Regardless, it was really nice to get a chance to just make the game better and spend more time on the project to bring out more of its potential. It always makes me sad that I don’t get more time to spend making the designs better since we always want to push out the mechanics first. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the course. It was the highlight of my quarter. Most likely will be the highlight of this academic year. I learned a lot about assessment-focused games, more language about education and play, more experience with interactive fictions, and got to experience a lot of new fun games that push my understanding about the boundaries of games. I learned more about stepping into other people’s worlds and how to receive new work. I got to practice working on a team and how to address issues with things that are not under my ownership. Now I really want to practice making just really simple games. I want to practice developing very smooth, simple dynamics. I think I have explored a lot about complexity through complexity, but I want to discover simple, scalable complexity. I would love it if there was a game design course that taught you how to build digital games while pushing you to use simple concepts since you are still newbies. I’m thinking about games like Parable of the Polygons could be the final project goal. 


I think another huge plus for me is that I get to walk away from the course with material I can massage into portfolio content. So P4 is really exciting for that as well.

Thank you for the course! I know it takes a lot to put a course together and I am grateful I got to experience this course before I left Stanford.

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