Final Reflection

Before taking CS 247G, I hadn’t really considered game design rigorously, and focused more on aesthetics when I looked at games. Obviously games are a huge part of who we are as human beings – from a cognitive science perspective, I’ve always loved learning about the ways that cognition is similar between us and animals, and games and play are an important aspect of the lives of most mammals. Despite this, I hadn’t given much thought to try making intuitions about design and games formal. I think I had a tendency to see games as complete products rather than evolving projects influenced by design choices, user feedback, and iterations.

Throughout the course, we did A LOT of activities, assignments, and projects that transformed my perception of game design. I liked that we looked at both digital and paper games, rapid prototyping, but wish we had maybe talked a bit more about conducting user research. But overall, I’d say the material does get at the main points of one possible model to look at game design, and provide an introduction to the game design process.

Several key concepts from the course stuck with me. The idea of mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics (MDA) is a great framework to build games that generate great player experiences. Although, it would’ve been interesting to learn about other models or ways of looking at games rather than only focusing on one particular model.

I think the best way I discovered for implementing these concepts in my projects was by focusing on player experience and feedback, and then mapping their positive and negative feedback onto the model we had chosen. For instance, while designing a strategy game for my P1 assignment, I iterated on mechanics for different cards based on playtesting sessions, which highlighted issues I hadn’t initially considered. Specifically, if they mentioned that a particular card was confusing, I could see that that is a mechanic level issue, whereas if people are complaining about general slowness of the game, I can identify that as a dynamic outcome of lower mechanics and remedy those to serve the vision of the game we’re going for. I’d say this iterative process was crucial in refining the game to ensure it was engaging and challenging, and my main takeaway from the class.

As far as challenges faced in the class, by far the biggest was receiving a failing individual participation grade for my P1 assignment, which didn’t reflect my contributions whatsoever. As far as my experience in the class goes, it was pretty devastating and unrecoverable to receive a failing grade for a project I participated fully in. Try to put yourself in my shoes and imagine how it feels to be failed on the negative comments of your partners alone without any course for redress. I was then even more hurt by the general callousness of the teaching team to hear my side of the story, and their refusal to provide a path to receive a passing grade based on evidence proving I had contributed to the project as much as my collaborators. When I asked what evidence I could possibly provide to improve my score to a passing one, I was informed that wasn’t a possibility as the scores are majority based on the feedback of teammates, which at that point were fixed. This experience obviously colored the rest of my time in the class, and wrecked my enjoyment. Grades should reflect your work, not hearsay, and receiving a letter grade deduction mid-quarter and not being provided any way to correct it, I’m sure you can appreciate, is not something you can really recover from.

Moving forward, I am excited to continue working on game design projects. Right now I’m working on a language learning app as a side project, and the skills and knowledge I gained from CS 247G have equipped me to tackle design challenges formally when they should arise. Additionally, even if I sadly had a pretty irreconcilably painful experience in this class on the logistical side, I will cherish all I’ve learned about iteration and design that I know will be interesting and useful as I develop ideas, and ultimately games, in the future.

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.