Doing things differently since the Carter Administration
A class in Game Studies offers a heap of evidence regarding the value of the iterative process! I appreciate the important lessons regarding this approach to game design (not like I had much in the way of experience to compare it to, though).
We didn’t just play games in this class: we went a step further and analyzed games and game design through an academic lens. By considering the many definitions attributed to PLAY and GAME, and exploring what previous games have offered to us, we were more readily equipped to design games that had more meaning, rather than design just a basic of basic shmups. I never thought I could make games and I would only ever experience them. By engaging iterative design, we were able to design games all semester. If something wasn’t working in a game, I took out that mechanic or feature and retested the game.
Iterative design is kind of awesome, don’t you think? 🙂
Those grandiose, “what if” ideas and the “harsh reality” of testing meet in a creative process cycle and, at some point, the whole fucking insane thing ends up becoming a real, honest-to-goodness game. I liked that we got to play games, then write about our experiences in the style of a session report, which offered a critical lens rather than mere opinion of a game.
<3 Who could forget Benthic Love, a dating sim that takes place in the depths of the ocean? <3
When it came time to design a game during a particular course module, we had already seen games that were relevant to our study; in addition, industry experts provided arguments that offered forth a smorgasbord of extra spoonfuls of knowledge, which helped spark ideas that would [maybe] later go on to becoming real games.
I really liked how Monopoly was criticized all semester (haha): although it is a game with a clear winning condition, the balance between opponents widens and becomes unfair and really one-sided over the course of the game. Here’s a real simple explanation of this. If the balance of a game like Monopoly hadn’t been addressed in class, I might not have considered its importance in my own game design. Because balance in a game can often lead to its success or failure, why not incorporate balanced mechanics/features from the get-go instead of one person, whom by the luck of the dice, lands on the most lucrative properties and then the game is over from there. I’ve played a lot of Monopoly on cold, sub-zero winter nights, where my best friend and I would take turns being the better player over the course of four hours. Looking back, it was really a way to pass the time and hang out with a really cool friend, but in terms of it being a true competition, the odds are in favor of one player over others way, way, waaaay too early on to make it a balanced competition.
I love how the readings and discussion tied together culture, history, art. I think my favorite-of-favorite parts this semester was continuing an early board game prototype (Bee Battle 2000), and actually having a little more time to spend making it a little more me, turning it into a fully printable game called Stargate: Rise of the System Lords. My soul belongs to the Goa’uld now.
It’s classes like Game Studies that make you look back at community college and, like, wonder why state funding still pushes for mediocrity (and are nothing like any classes you will take after transfer) when learning can be fun and still connect culture, science, psychology, tech, art, new media, business, music, and the list goes on and on…
[Look, I get it—community college is a whole different conversation that should consider the complicated history of education, privilege, and polytechnics a la Clark Kerr.]
What a fun and informative class! …One of the few classes that, in the event it doesn’t actually count toward graduation, it’s still a life-changer and definitely worth taking. There’s so much more to say, but you should think about checking out a Game Studies class near you. You will come out of the experience a better person.