Game Design in the Field

When our noble and distinguished contemporaries talk about what it takes to be a great designer in the video game industry, I feel that one point is consistently missed: games are everywhere, and in the majority of cases, they don’t need a computer or console to play.  While good design utilizes the constraints of the platform being designed for, great design is technology independent.  I will always be skeptical of a person’s design acumen if they can only produce a fun experience in one narrow field, such as mobile or social gaming.

A lottery is a game.  Fast food promotions like McDonalds’ Monopoly are games.   These corporate efforts are generally crude and less sophisticated than most playground games designed by children, but are nonetheless ever-present and popular.  Can you imagine what would happen if the body of knowledge for game design and reward psychology were utilized by all consumer industries?

Back to playground games.  If you want to exercise your game design skills, the only platform you need to understand is a space to play something in and a group of people to play something with.  Add some deliberately chosen props, or modify the rules to a time-honoured classic like Capture the Flag.  Go nuts with team sizes, constraints, and win conditions.  Try to make the experience rewarding for all, and watch for lulls in energy or activity level — these will be the indicators of your success.

Lewis and I have been blessed with a vibrant group of friends who are graciously (or unwittingly) our guinea pigs for such exercises.  This past weekend, Lewis put together an epic, 12-person water fight in a public park, and an excellent time was had by all.  I’ll leave it to Lewis to provide you with his design notes and lessons learned 😉

Oh, and some of said friends have been bugging us for another alpha release of Tainted Sword.  There’s a few things I’d like to make sure have been implemented before I send this version out.  But if you’re interested in seeing it, feel free to holler at us and let us know!

Posted in Game Design, Rants, Tainted Sword

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