How Do I Game Design?

Paris Buttfield-Addison, Jon Manning, Tim Nugent Part of CW18

While video games are the most glamorous of the electronic arts, splashy graphics and amazing sound isn’t the defining feature of games. Rather, games are games because they are the world’s only interactive medium. Good interaction needs to be designed, and the master creatives of engaging interaction design are game designers.

In this session, you’ll learn about game design: the art, science, and creativity of designing enjoyable, engaging games. This is entirely non-electronic; we’re not talking about programming, game engine development, or how to approach a publisher with your totally rad idea about how you can have, like Mario only there’s explosions. Instead, we’ll be taking a deep dive into game design theory.

Understanding games means understanding user engagement and interaction. In this session, you’ll learn a fresh perspective on user experience design by understanding how users engage with the fastest-growing form of entertainment in the world.

Topics covered in this session include:

  • Why games work, and how to analyse and build engaging experiences
  • The Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics framework: what it’s good for, and how to use it
  • How to understand what a game’s doing, and how to build for fun

This session will be a paper-and-pens (and other bits and pieces) hands-on exercise in learning what makes a game a game. It’s not about video games. It’s not about board games. It’s about the creative processes involved in making something ‘fun’, and exploring exactly what ‘fun’ means. This session will be useful to anyone and everyone!

Paris Buttfield-Addison is co-founder of Secret Lab, a game development studio based in beautiful Hobart, Australia. Secret Lab builds games and game development tools, including the multi-award-winning ABC Play School iPad games, Night in the Woods, the Qantas airlines Joey Playbox games, and the Yarn Spinner narrative game framework. Previously, Paris was mobile product manager for Meebo (acquired by Google). Paris particularly enjoys game design, statistics, machine learning, and human-centered technology research and writes technical books on mobile and game development (more than 20 so far) for O’Reilly Media. He holds a degree in medieval history and a PhD in computing. You can find him on Twitter @parisba