Jesse Schell in The Art Of Game Design, says “[g]ame design is the act of deciding what a game should be”, a statement which may make you want to throw up your hands in protest saying “what does that mean?”. Schell clarifies this with “[t]o decide what a game is, you must make hundreds, usually thousands of decisions”. This is not the only thing that one must worry about when designing a game. There are “[d]ecisions about rules, look and feel, timing, pacing, risk-taking, rewards, punishments, and everything else the player experiences […] So I wonder how on earth I am going to design a game. As I was brainstorming a list of ten ideas for a game, my brain was screaming out “this is ridiculous! You have no ideas, don’t be absurd”. My entire being was fighting this on every level. I am dumb, I have no ideas. Schell has some answers. He states:
Good game design happens when you view your game from as many perspectives as possible. I refer to these perspectives as lenses …, small sets of questions you should ask yourself about your design.The idea is that even though we can’t have one complete picture, by taking all of these small imperfect lenses and using them to view your problem from many different perspectives, you will be able to use your discretion to figure out the best design.
That sounds great. Schell says that game design is based on the same principles as human psychology and that if you understand the fundamentals you can master any genre. Yippee! But wait, this is just the beginning and I have a long way to go.
Some of the game ideas I generated were as follows. Discover a new planet and populate it board game, exotic animal collection card game, ‘Catwalk Capers’ – discover who killed the fashion designer board game, raise a family role playing game and my favourite, build a time machine card game.
Time travel is a theme that I would like to explore further. Perhaps there could be different time machines each with specific attributes that could then be utilised to carry out some type of mission. The mission could involve rescuing a child who has telepathic powers who can either save or destroy the planet depending on which timeline is activated (the basis for this idea was taken from Rian Johnson’s Looper ).
At this point in time I have no idea what the mechanics will be, other than using a board and cards, but am hoping that the theme of the game will guide me. Did I mention that I was a complete novice at game design. Oh that’s right! I am a game designer-I am a game designer etc. Thank you Mr Schell.
I would like this game to appeal to the over 50’s market as this is an area that is currently under capitalised in the board game industry. The difficulty I will have in creating a prototype will be in tackling the time travel beast and taming it. I am hoping that brainstorming and some solid research will open pathways for the next stage of development.