2016 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Avoiding n00b design mistakes

The difference between a junior and senior level game designer: the junior sees all kinds of “design decisions” that aren’t decisions at all to the senior, there’s a clear right answer that the senior already knows through experience; meanwhile, the senior’s decisions are things that the junior doesn’t even see as decisions because they don’t realize there are alternatives to consider at all.

Can we find ways to ramp juniors faster? I’m thinking a list of most common junior-level mistakes, questions, uncertainties and their obvious-to-a-senior-level solutions, with the ultimate goal of making a short guide for first-time designers to get them more productive more quickly, by identifying core areas that they tend to miss if left to their own devices.

2 thoughts on “Avoiding n00b design mistakes

  1. Would mentorship where a master designer provides frameworks for experimentation and context for failure (and success) be more effective than a checklist of received wisdom? I’ve found I ignore most great advice from others (and other equally ignore my advice!) until we finds ourselves in a real world situation where those tools can be put directly to use.

  2. Mentorship is awesome in the right circumstances, no doubt. In some cases it’s not practical, though: some senior designers are great designers and terrible mentors, mentorship time is severely limited during crunch, and it’s not repeatable (several master designers might give different or even conflicting advice to fix a failure state). If there’s a way we can identify some common ground here, like providing some junior designer exercises that can provide these kinds of real-world situations (with defined success and failure states to illustrate a clear point), I’d be interested to see that.
    Also, I’m not necessarily talking about imparting wisdom, as identify the most common mistakes made by juniors. Think of all the junior designers you’ve mentored over the years, and especially think of the mistakes they’ve made that you’ve had to correct: are there any patterns there? Is there one dumb thing that you see juniors do over and over again, that you feel like you have to teach and mentor to ALL of them and that you wish they’d just have learned it in school already? Even just identifying most common mistakes would be valuable, as a starting point for how to solve this through early-career design education.

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