801 Conceptual Game Design, Part I

by Foster Douglas on March 12, 2017

I’m 800 posts deep in this bizarre experiment, and occasionally question myself on my own purpose or intention with it all. It all gets quite existential, really.

So, why is what I’m doing important? Or, at least, why do I think it’s important?

It’s hard to explain, exactly. But in my experience, especially in game academia, there is much more focus put on the “development” of the game than there is on the strict game design itself. That’s to say, and I think I’ve talked about this before, when the term game design is used, it’s typically used loosely in reference to the entire process of designing a game, and sometimes specifically the process of developing the game, but rarely refers to the actual design of the game’s systems and mechanics.

So, we’re talking here about the idea for the game mostly. I’ll introduce my thoughts on the matter, and we’ll talk in a future post about how a great idea comes together.

It’s a common thought that ideas are a “dime a dozen.” And in a lot of ways they are. Anybody can think of an idea for a game, “wouldn’t it be cool if …” or “there should be a game like this…” are great prompts to interesting ideas. But to think of a good idea, one that is aware of the landscape of gaming, takes into account what has come before and could come after, appropriately integrates interactivity (and narrative when applicable), one with longevity… all of this and more goes into a great idea.

But who cares? Ideas mean nothing if you can’t execute them properly.

That’s where I think the gaming community is uniquely qualified. It’s easy to find talented individuals and groups that can execute ideas well. Many people are well-trained in this area. This puts less stress on the priority of actually being able to execute (since it’s an inherent quality of the community), and thus requiring a great idea to stand out. Who cares if you can execute an idea? Everybody can. But crafting a great one? Now that’s a useful skill.

It’s almost backward for us. Execution means nothing if you don’t have a great idea.

[ Today I Was Playing: Zip Zap ]

#game-design-topic, #game-opinion