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The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses


The author provides 113 lenses in which to "view" game design from. Can be thought of as various mental models, perspectives, and / or as a checklist to help guide you in your game design journey

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Key Takeaways

  1. Game design = decision of what a game should be
  2. Listening is the most important skill. Must listen to your team, audience, game, client, self
  3. A game is something you play, a good toy is fun, fun = pleasure + surprise
    1. Games are entered willfully
    2. Games have goals
    3. Games have conflict
    4. Games have rules
    5. Games can be won and lost
    6. Game are interactive
    7. Games have challenge
    8. Games can create their own internal value
    9. Games engage players
    10. Games are closed, formal systems
  4. 4 Basic Elements of Game Design
    1. Mechanisms - rules, procedures
    2. Story - sequence of events
    3. Aesthetics
    4. Tech
  5. Community
    1. 4 primary elements that provide a sense of community - Membership, Influence, Integration and fulfillment needs, shared emotional connection
    2. Give people the means to talk and communicate
    3. Create community property 
    4. Let players express themselves (avatars, conversation, emojis, vanity items, etc.)
    5. Support three levels - the newbie, the player, the elder (teacher, give back, extra access, a more difficult game, governance, create and add to the platform...)
    6. Force players to depend on each other - obligation to others is powerful
    7. Community events 
  6. Survey
    1. What was the most frustrating moment or aspect of what you just did
    2. What was your favorite moment?
    3. Was there anything you wanted to do that you couldn't?
    4. If you had a magic wand to wave, and you could change, add, or remove anything from the experience, what would it be?
    5. What were you doing in the experience?
    6. How would you describe this game to your friends and family?
  7. Learning
    1. Progressing from knowing to knowing how to showing to doing
    2. To create meaningful transformations, you must clearly state the change you want to take place and also the specifics of how and why your game will foster that change. Really, this is our old friend, Lens $14: Problem Statement. Of course, to create a successful transformational game, you must come up with a solid solution to how you enable the transformation, but you can't possibly do that until you have clearly stated what transformation needs to take place. 
    3. Find Subject Matter Experts - they are usually thrilled to be able to take their expertise into a new dimension and eager to make sure you have every detail right. Starts with feeling, move to anecdotes, then SME approval, informal surveys/assessment, and lastly scientific testing and assessment
  8. Lenses - there are 113 lenses that I won't write out completely, but some that hit home the most include:
    1. Lens of emotion, surprise, curiosity, problem solving, toy, pleasure, flow, motivation, novelty, challenge, skill vs. chance, competition, cooperation, reward, punishment, elegance, beauty, hero's journey, story, expression, community, transformation, your secret purpose

What I got out of it

  1. Some really helpful tips and ideas in which to think about game design. Fun book to read and the author really made the process come to life

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