This is a very exciting time to be a videogame designer.
Videogame design is evolving from a barely understood activity done by genius designers driven by their gut feelings to a craft with shared techniques and methodologies. A common vocabulary cobbled from various fields (interface design, psychology, complex systems, physics, etc.) is slowly emerging. Successes and failures are analyzed…
But it’s still a big mess, a large toolbox where any designer can find the right tool to confirm exactly what he believes in. There are no universally accepted truths, only opinions about what makes a great game, whether or not videogames are an art form or whether there is an effective method to teach videogame design.
We lack ways to compare games in an objective manner, ways to describe them in a shared language. Without proper description, there can be no true understanding. Success in videogames still hinges on applying traditional techniques, copying, marketing, luck or genius. And even if success is achieved, there’s no guarantee that we can know why it happened.
Arts and sciences have rules and laws, not just techniques. But what are the rules of videogame design?
Where is our redox law? Our perspective rule? Our theory of relativity?
Where are the formal tools we can use to better understand, analyze, and improve games?
How big is the game design space and can we identify its virgin territories?
What are the rules we can bend or break to create totally new experiences?
This article presents a theory of what videogame game design is and explains how to find such rules.
It’s very bold. It deserves to be read.