Final Reflection – Ellie

I have always loved games since my childhood. I had a phase where I decided I was going to be a videogame designer when I grew up (I think many techy kids in my generation did). But then, the pressures of life struck and I felt a responsibility to make my aspirations less frivolous. Pretty soon, I started to view game design as something that had passed me by.

This class really allowed me to reconnect with that part of myself. For the first time in a long time, I felt excited to come to class. MDA really stuck with me because it immediately brought so much about games into focus. For the first time I felt like I understood games on a deeper level, and game design started to feel less distant. Arcs and loops stuck with me for the same reason – it felt like I immediately understood something key about games. I really appreciated the way 247G made me feel like I was uncovering the secrets to creating fun.

But the class wasn’t without challenge. I found it difficult at first to really nail thinking and writing like a game designer. My critical plays weren’t getting the grades I wanted. I also struggled with visual design. Visual hierarchy is something I’m still working on getting down. My sketchnotes were usually pretty disorganized, especially because I made them with permanent markers on paper. I feel like if I iterated on any particular sketchnote, I’d be able to produce a much better design. Then because there was so much content, I sometimes found it hard to take everything in. It was frustrating to feel like I was failing to grasp this content, which I wanted so badly to connect with. But the frustration motivated me to try even harder next time, and I ended up improving. It was so exciting to produce writing I felt proud of, and games I had fun playing.

At the end of the class, I feel like I experience games differently. I think I see something more in games. I sometimes fall into old patterns of just experiencing a game uncritically. But more often I’ve found myself noticing the designer’s decisions. I feel like I experience games like a conversation. I feel like I’m communicating with the designer. I also feel braver. I think this class really gave me permission to make games that suck, because there’s always potential to make something fun.

In the future, I’d like to branch out and make more system heavy games. I’ve taken a first crack at a card game, which has been complicated and difficult. But I feel like now making something like that is in my reach. In my future, rather than being in my past.

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