Training & Education – Thinking Like a Game Designer

While Creative Director at GameSalad, Inc. I hosted a number of pro webinars and weekend seminars where I covered the mental process of designing the mechanics and thematic elements of games. Rather than only teach technical proficiency with game tools, I focused on the interplay between dependent systems and reinforcement of theme through gameplay with a strong user focus. Many students of game design are inspired by their favorite games and many times replicate the design choices of those that came before them without fully understanding how and why. As time progresses, platforms change and technical barriers are lifted, new design considerations must be made.

By emphasizing the creative process of mind/thought mapping to create visualized logic systems, students were able to better structure their game features, scripts and test plans. Creativity and game design are non linear media forcing designers to constantly shift components and understand the ramifications of dependent systems. With a strong foundation designers and engineers can layer new features and systems without the whole design collapsing on itself (as many projects tend to do).

Lastly, I taught some guiding principles regarding innovation and some tips on how to achieve it. Innovation is very difficult to manufacture and many designers can mistake technological advancements for game design innovation. Innovation is elegant and many times incredibly subtle. A small improvement here, an optimized interaction there…all leading to immense user experience impact that ultimately can be recognized as innovation. I taught students to not seek innovation, but seek a better understanding with their product and the users that product would serve. Through that relationship opportunities for innovation could arise naturally without feeling forced and unnecessary.

Watch the full webcast below:



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