What is game design?

What is game design?

Video game consultants are often asked “Why do I need a game designer for my game project?” or “What is the value of game design?”. Game Design and Game designers are an important component for any game production team focusing on making not just something that works, but also something that is immersive, dynamic and most of all fun.

Game designers and directors collaborate with all members of the team especially developers & artists bringing these textures, tools, and assets into the game world, mixing them to create fun, engaging experiences for players. 

Here are a few tips from experienced game designers to consider whilst designing a game.

Real Vs Abstract

Two different pizza slices, served in very different settings

Popular games can be often abstract like “Mario Bros”, “Tetris”, “Pac man”, “Candy Crush”, “Minecraft”, etc.  The user can often be thrown into the world sharing information like controls and navigation which resonates with gamers to become a great creative exploration  as the game progresses. Often little to no explanation is really needed to define the world the character is in, rather defining objectives ; in “Mario bros” we love jumping on turtles, launching their shells into our enemies, and breaking brick walls with our fists in case they might have a gold coin in. In real-life this is incredibly grotesque, nonsensical and not very eco-conscious.

Popular games can be realistic, Call of Duty series being a great example. All features & mechanics are built within the context of historical world wars, for which the games are it is set in. When we go with realism the capacity for great story telling and great immersion is often quite high. The subtlety of character plots changing in an immersive gaming experiences, allows us to imagine we’re apart of a modern or historical war. Making decisions early about why your game will be fun is key for consistency and quality down the road.

Developing Game Mechanics

There are no two ways about it, we play great games for great game mechanics. The things that we do experience discover within the game world to move us through the journey. Detailing and understanding your games mechanics and how this works with your games, pacing are very important. Be sure you have lots of examples of experiences that you have planned to competitive level so that you know how your game mechanics are understood from top gamers. Detail why your mechanics are diffrent and what impact that has on the overall gameplay.

Defining the Game Flow

With the game mechanics pinned down, the game director starts planning content. How much content is needed for this type of experience/game project?

Identifying tools, kits, prototypes and mocks ups to fine tune the flow of the game in pre-production through to post production.

Great game directors understand how to direct and manipulate the game flow allowing for a wide range of players on varying skill levels to neither become anxious or bored due to the starting and increasing difficulty of the the game. Now how to keep all types of gamers engaged over a long time is the key.

A graph showing the flow of a game

Planning & Documentation

Game Design Documentation is important for your games team to have clear expectation for what to develop and work towards during development. .This is especially important if you are working with remote teams in other countries in different timezones. This documentation is also very useful for investment opportunities with a business plan., you’ll need a game director to communicate & articulate the details of game mechanics & features that add most value to the game product.