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Misunderstanding Games Design

January 26, 2011

This is an interesting article and worth a read…

Like most things related to creativity, game design has always suffered from a lack of understanding. Most of the public thinks game designers just play games all day long. Executives tend to think they are the best game designers in the room or simply do not understand the designer role — besides the fact that they need some on the payroll.  A game enthusiast even once asked me if I was designing clothing for characters in video games…

Designers or aspiring designers I have met and worked with are rarely at ease. Most of the time, they feel that they are not heard or taken seriously, that they don’t have the tools and support they need, that the complexity of their work is not acknowledged, nor the value of it understood.

Part of the problem is that the job of game design is generally not well defined in terms of skills and function. Game design is not as established as programming and art. Its academic status is in its infancy, which makes it difficult not only to execute, but also to discuss, since we lack a proper vocabulary to describe it.

This generally has two consequences. First, because no clear technical task is given to game designers, they tend to travel along the path of least resistance, as players also do in games, and try to do what they believe “being creative” is: coming up with ideas, and trying to have them accepted and put into the game. … But as ideas are being proposed without any technical backing in terms of feasibility or relevance, and consequently no established authority, the ensuing discussions are generally just exchanges of opinions in which a producer, as the higher hierarchical decision taker, usually has the final say.

Second, in some teams, game design and product vision can be merged into one single entity. Saying that they are the same thing is missing the point that the former is a means to the latter. As with any creation, the form has to be subordinated to the function. …


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