Inspired by this thread: https://www.facebook.com/thebrenda/posts/10155664616687387?pnref=story
Creating a definition for the word “game” that doesn’t exclude things that are obviously games, or include things that are obviously not, is hard. It may be entirely impossible. Many individuals have tried and failed. No one has yet succeeded.
That would certainly qualify this as one of game design’s hardest problems. Perhaps if we bash enough of our brains together, we can find a better answer than any that has come before. Or at least move the needle slightly in the right direction.
Third time’s a charm…
Let’s choose a real-world problem that can be solved through game design or game creation, and actually solve it. We have some of the most brilliant designers out there in one place, let’s use that brain power to fix something that’s broken that falls directly within our shared expertise.
I recently got posed an interesting design challenge: how would you design a game specifically to help players heal after the loss of a loved one?
There is plenty of literature in psychology about stages of grief, normal vs. pathological grief, and how the commonalities and differences in how loss affects people, and there are some games that deal with the topic in various ways, but to my knowledge there’s no easily-digestible set of best practices for dealing with themes of death and loss. So, let’s make one.
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.
I pitched this last year and it seemed like it was everyone’s #2 pick so it never got picked up. I heard several of you mention your regrets that you didn’t go for it, so I’m pitching it again.
Let’s choose a difficult real-world problem that can be solved through game creation, and actually solve it.
We like to talk a good game about how design thinking or systems thinking is relevant in all kinds of areas outside of game design, and how the world is full of (hackable) systems.
Let’s prove it. Let’s get some great design minds together to figure out how to game a real-world system.
Politics is full of systems. Could we get one or more game designers into a high-ranking public office?
Human biology is all about systems. Can we cure cancer?
Economic systems drive our lives. Can we figure out a pathway to get to a post-scarcity society?
Something along those lines.
The industry is currently, for lack of a better word, under attack. This isn’t an isolated case, but something that’s part of a larger system. If anyone knows how to analyze, understand, and ultimately control systems, it should be game designers. So maybe we should say, fuck “solving game design’s hardest problems,” and instead use our time together to solve some of the hardest systemic problems out there in the rest of the world, as they are affecting our industry anyway.
There were some idiots out there targeting a bunch of academics at DiGRA on the theory that they are some kind of secret shadow organization that controls the game industry, apparently oblivious to the existence of PH. Clearly, if we work on this topic, the standard Code of Secrecy/Blabbing will need to be considered carefully, to protect all concerned.
Nearly every game project has, at some point, some designer doing work on balancing. Yet there is a dearth of resources explaining how we do it. Let’s get some heads together and figure out if any of us even do this in the same way, and if there’s a way we can formalize our methods so that others can make use of them.
(I realize balance is a massive topic, possibly beyond the scope of our ability to cover over a single weekend. If so, we can choose a suitable subtopic to elaborate on.)