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A declaration of personal game design views and ideals

by Rodney Emerson on 08/23/14 11:40:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Not too long ago, I began to design a game of my own, with an idea in my head, twinkle in my eye,

and the youthful enthusiasm that is common among humanity. Not too long later, I began to seriously

resaerch and ponder what games were, and what making one entailed, sobering a little. Not too long

after that, I began to seriously question my earlier ideas of what a game was, where they came,

what they could do, and to put my idea to the test, quickly finding it to be a broken mess. At this final

point, the fluttering of the heart became a slow burning determination, and a serious hunger for

understanding of the subject I had previously taken for granted, and this brings me to now, as I write

this blog post.

 

 

It's been a very eventful seven months to be sure.

 

 

I am Rodney Emerson, an illustrator still studying his craft, and just a few steps past the starting line

of starting a acquiring a new one. Like many here, I long held dreams of making my own game since

my youth playing Sonic 2 on my then beloved Sega Genesis. Said dreams grew and grew as I was

exposed to more games, news about games, art from games, and other such things that feuled

fantasies. When I got my hand on a graphing calculator, the first thing I did was learn how to

program it so I could play games on it. While I didn't keep the inclination toward programming, going

for drawing instead, this pull toward video games never died. It took me a long time to finally bite the

bullet and seriously give game making a shot, and my perspective changed quite a bit when I finally

decided to seriously persue it. I did a lot of reading, some playing, and a LOT of writing in journals on

this subject, and now I'd like to bring some fruits of that small bit of labor out in to the public. I figured

that having an audience, leaving myself open to any comments or criticism, would be a good

motivator to continue. While I do have a blog specifically on the project I am making, it's still small

and out of the way, and I wanted to be in a space with more experienced game designers, increasing

the possibility of useful comments. But, before I start posting about my project, I wanted to list out

my goals and ideals concerning game design as a whole. This is to put my future and past posts on

this site into perspective, and also a hopefully long-lasting reminder to my future self. Many people

have ideals as to what they want to do with their path in game design, I see it come out whenever I

read posts here, and I will be no different in that regard. So with not further ado...

 

 

1. I want to make games that, in some way, enriches the people who play them. When a

person is playing someone's game, they're giving that person they're time, a precious thing

that cannot be gotten back. With that in mind, I simply cannot aim to make something in

which it's only function is to eat time on the bus.

 

 

2. I believe games are art, they're just not the kind of people are used to, nor the kind of art

that is often billed as “art games”. Games don't talk like books, nor like movies, nor like

television. But many games I see nowadays try with maximum effort to be like books, movies,

or television. I feel this does a diservice to game's true stregnth, and only serves to make what

should be a dynamic, long lasting system of play into a consumable experience that can be

tossed aside after it is eaten. This is not to say that I don't appreciate a nice narrative game

experience from time to time, but I don't think games should aim to be this as their highest

form, it's an insult to what games are.

 

 

3. Excessive, indulgant, and brutal violence is pervasive in games, so much so that for many

AAA games, “murder simulator” is not jeering from people who don't get it, but simple and

evident truth. I don't think it has to be this way, and I won't be adding to the the blood pool.

 

 

4. The above goes for violence's slutty partner-in-crime, as well.

 

 

5. I there is one element of video game designing that I dispise, it is the idea of intentially using

psychological manipulation to keep the player playing. I was never a fan of grinding games in

the first place, and reading up on things like reward schedules, skinner boxes, and other such

things only cemented it. I'll do everything I can possibly do to avoid this sort of thing.

 

 

6. Sid Meier described games as a series of interesting choices. In chess, bringing a pawn

forward is a meaningful choice. In Go, placing a stone is a meaningful choice. I aim to achieve

this ideal.

 

 

7. I will do everything in my power to avoid the hot button social issues of the day, nor will I

bother to list them, as they have nothing to do with the improvement of games, but are only

displays of a mass of negative human traits that one can find literally anywhere on the internet.

 

 

These are the major things I aim to do when it comes to game design. There's more to it, of course,

but I feel to list anymore would be taking too much time from actually designing prototypes, and

figuring out how they work/don't work. I'll be posting about actually designing protoypes and the

projects I am working on later, as well as any insights and thought I have about my person game

design process. Thank you for reading.

 

Until Next time...


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