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The “I have a great ideas for a game…” Statement

September 11, 2010

When I tell people that I work as a games designer, I get a variety of replies but one of the most common is people then telling me that they have a great idea for a game. Fine… perhaps games are like novels and we all have a good one inside us? However then they will, more often than not, proceed to tell me their idea. Herein lies the tricky bit – 99% of the time it’s not a game idea they tell me at all, it’s a narrative world in which they’d like to set a game.

I’m not splitting hairs here – it’s a major point: A game idea is an interaction; it’s about how the player interacts with the game world, what they do, what they see as a result of what they do (or don’t) and so on. It’s all about interaction. By contrast, describing who the character the player controls is, and what they world the game is set in, is often just the narrative setting in which the interaction happens. While one bleeds into the other – without the interaction, it’s not a game idea. (Whereas without the narrative world it is still a game idea).

I have written more about this… but consider this in the light of an example… Tetris – you can’t describe it without describing the interaction – because there is no narrative to it. Why are we stacking blocks? Who is discarding the blocks that need to be stacked? We’re never told; and we don’t care.  By contrast the interaction is easy to describe – stack the blocks to fill complete lines. That’s a game idea…

Tetris cover

Tetris cover

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2010 12:37 pm

    That all makes perfect sense. I guess you could take someone’s narrative and then build the game round it but then it would be your game idea and not theirs.

  2. September 11, 2010 2:23 pm

    Indeed!

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  1. The Idea of a Sacred Game Idea « A Great Becoming…

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