Great game designers understand the social sciences and know the physical sciences that govern a world’s existence. Great game designers are not just people with strong programming and artistsic backgrounds, but people with great cultural backgrounds. They are true observers and absorbers of the world around them. They find the game in everyday life. Everything is a great level design in their minds. In reality, the world is one big game.
It is a game that no one can afford to lose. A game that we all truly want to explore. Unlike most video games, there is no cinematics, no bottomless backpacks, no multiple lives, and no continues. Great game designers take the minimalistic truth of our existence and widen the boundaries of our imaginations. Great game designers create worlds that grab our souls and hold them tight until the very end. Great game designers build worlds that draw out the empathetic emotions that we feel during movie viewing while providing the immersive sense of accomplishment like playing a sport or acing a test.
Game designers are not only technological scientists, they are artistic social scientists. They do not work in a vacuum to construct worlds that rival our realities. They work in our reality to construct worlds that rival our imaginations.
I am loving game design and world design. My collegiate career was built on social sciences. I was headed down the path of public policy. I was destined to create programs to uplift the human conditions. Now, I’ve dedicated my life to create entertainment not for escape, but to uplift the human spirit. I’m a dreamer that wants to not only profit by selling his dreams, but cause others to profit from living in my dreams.
The following short film by artist filmaker Bruce Branit explains the essence of a good game designer aka world builder.
I just happened to stumble across Yankee Gal. I watched it without knowing what to expect. Initially, I felt a sense of fear and urgency. As I continued to watch, I was calmed by the pilot’s ability to take control of the situation. I empathized with the pilot to fight through this challenge. I wanted to jump in and do something. That is where movies end and video games begin. In gaming, you do jump in and do something. That something must take the player from empathizing to sympathizing with the character.
Game designers working alongside artists struggling to capture that raw emotion that only the situation, environment, and atmosphere project to the viewer and force them to do something in the environment. The colors, the particle effects, the actions of every element in the environment must be choreographed to convince our psyche that the situation is real, but we are safe as the viewer/player. They must master the art of delayed gratification and emotional fear. Game designers must construct a world that forces the player to maintain a sense of urgency, proactivity, and challenge for the duration of the gameplay experience.
Game designers and producers alike know that the production value goes beyond pretty graphics and a killer soundtrack. They know high quality production value is an artform of creating immersion and experience. We must immerse the player in the world and make them experience life as they choose to play it.
Unlike movies, video games do not have the luxury of railing the audience on a roller coaster. We place our audience in a vehicle and drop them in a labyrinth. We have to provide continuity in the story, connection in actions, and make the illogical and irrational feel rational and logical in the constructed world. We evoke emotion by forcing the player to be proactive and be apart of the world around him. It goes beyond passive spectating. Game designers dive into an ocean of activity and action fishing for ways to make the player feel like they are linked to the organized confusion in the game world and must complete the task at hand.
Creating an atmosphere and environment that causes the player to be proactive to the very end is the result of good game design.