Flammable Penguins

Claire Blackshaw's Forest of Fun

Mind Splurge

Game Design
Mind Splurge

Hi All, I haven't forgotten about the MMO piece, the next part, "Problem: Didn't I just kill you? (Reality in a Persistent world)" will be up sometime Monday. I had a great time at Games Horizon conference. It was more business than development orientated but I'm interested in that part of the industry so it was enjoyable.

First I want to say three things

  • Learning! I always consider myself a student, and know there are more intelligent and experienced people out there I can learn from. Hence why I called the Podcast "Game Programmers in Training". I will always be in training, always willing to change a viewpoint or investigate established theories.
  • Experience! A tricky phrase. I've met 16 yr olds who have more life experience than 60 years olds. I will agree age defines an upper limit to experience but most people don't come near their upper limits. Also experience has a way of transcending the scope of the original moment.
  • Logic! My one friend often jokingly calls me a robot. I think I can safely call myself a strongly passionate person with many views. While studying Philosophy one concept from Kant truly annoyed me. "Self Evident truths". I feel its lazy thinking and in many ways the core of the opinion culture. Opinions and viewpoints are NOT fact, and should never be treated as such.

So onto the main course. I'm currently reading "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses" by Jesse Schell. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, I'm on my second read through at present. Now another book which has been on my list of must reads for ages is "A Theory of Fun for Game Design" by Raph Koster.

Now this books has come with MASSIVE recommendations both personal and professional. I've really been looking forward to opening it. Guiltily I have to say I really didn't enjoy it. I use the word guilty because I feel idiotic in my view and when it first settled into my mind I tried to drive it out with a large stick because so many people I respect praise this book. I will say I could not write a book of this calibre, so immediate kudos and respect there.

Now this is a non-fiction reference book. So yes the enjoyment of the writing style is personal. I'm not a fan of the wide format and find myself losing my place often. That's not what bothers me. So like any good robot I did some research and tried to pin it down.

Best review I found so far was on Amazon from a German reader.

The book starts with some solid concepts but there aren't delivered in a concise manner. I love the work grok, brilliant, but I've seen many books, blogs and articles more clearly define the concepts of comprehension, flow and education in less words.

From there the book starts becoming a little too "preachy" and opinionated for my liking. What really stands out is the lack of bibliography references to white papers, academics research. Game design is often in danger from opinion overriding fact, hence why I do like these sources as it allows me to do deeper research and gain an understanding of the author content from a base of knowledge.

Now I HATE throwing around the "-ist" words. I fully agree different cultures, genders, and ages have different methods of play on average. I do feel at times however they book plays the girl gamer card a bit heavily. There is not enough discussion, or foundation placed to support the authors viewpoints.

On opening the book the pictures drew my eye but over the course of the book they grew frustrating.

  • At times the pictures helped illustrate a point, very few pages.
  • Most are gag driven, or self indulgent.
  • By their nature many of the pictures are stero-typed sometimes in a negative manner.
  • Speculation: Did the format force more doodles than the book required.

So in closing I'm not saying don't read the book. It's hihgly recommended and I might have just missed the point. Also however don't be afraid to be critical of it. If I were to recommend two books off my shelf it would be

"The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses" by Jesse Schell
"Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton, Christopher Swan and Steven Hoffman

I promise next time we will be back to my ramblings on the LARP lessons.