What is Game Design Notes

What is Game Design?
Game Design is an art form, and as designers we grow by challenging ourselves OFTEN.

Game Design: Process of creating the content and rules of a game.

Good Game Design: Process of creating goals that the player feels motivated to reach and rules that a player MUST follow as he/she makes meaningful decisions in pursuit of those goals.

Good game design is player centric; remember them as you create the game.

These are the questions to ask from a player’s perspective:
What is this game about?
How do I play?
How do I win?
Why do I want to play?
What things do I need to do?

At its essence it is about creating meaningful decisions and creating opportunities to make those decisions.

Think about the games that you have played, some decisions you have made were good and some bad but ultimately every decision made you a stronger player. We remember things in the rear-view mirror and through repeated play we become less likely to falter in our decision making the further we go.

What Game Design is NOT:

Misused term in today’s culture

A lot of institutions teach art, which is not design. Programming, which is not design. Although both are vital they are not design.


Types of Design:

Game writing
Game Definition: An activity with rules. It is a form of play often but not always involving conflict, either with other players, with the game system itself, or with randomness/fate/luck. Most game have goals, but not all. Most games have defined start and end points, but not all. Most games involve decision making on the part of the players, but not all.

Video game definition-add uses a digital video screen of some kind, in some way.


Core or core dynamic is the single thing gameplay is about; the single play experience the designer is trying to convey. AKA Core mechanic.

This game is about…This game is the experience of being…This game teaches…The game simulates the experience of…

If you can’t sum up your game in a sentence or two you don’t have a game.

Most common core dynamics, most repetitive:

Territorial Acquisition, Prediction, Spatial reasoning, Survival, Destruction, Building, Collection, Chasing/Evading, Trading, race to the end

Where do ideas come from?

Anything, it is as simple as that.

Playing lots of games, networking with other designers, everywhere

Terms: pages 12-14 in Challenges book 1st 26 terms to know so we can speak the same language

Add approaches to the list of terms as well



Approaches to game design:

Blue Sky
Slow Boil

Iterative Design:

Rapid prototyping played and refined again and again before it is finalized.

It requires one simple understanding: that no one gets it right on the first try, not even the most skilled designer.

The biggest successes are achieved over massive failures over a period of time, rule vs exception

Typical steps are: rapid proto, playtest, revise, repeat.

Good rules of Iterative: don’t write rules until you have to & if a problem arises a “Band-Aid” is not a good solution sometimes removing the problem is a good answer.


Questions that should be asked-

What is budget?
What is timeframe?
What is platform?
What is target audience?
What is desired rating if applicable?
Specific features?

Sometimes it is good to ask for adjectives that describe the game to get a “feel” this question will help with any pitch.

Non Digital-Cost to manufacture, Physical dimensions, Publisher, Timing