Before taking 377G, I used to play a lot of games, whether it was video games, board games, (drinking games?) but I never really thought about what makes a good and meaningful game. I thought that great story, gameplay, and graphics were the only factors to consider when making a game. Oh how I wrong I was, standing atop the tip of the iceberg. Through this class, I discovered the great depth and vitality that goes into making a great game.
Some of the topics that I took a great interest in included critical aspects of game development, such as Systems, formal elements, balancing, and playtesting. Conceptual learning aside, the practical experience of the class is what really pushed me into the world of game design.
Even just starting from the first game, I was shook by the amount of effort and delicacy it took to make a simple board game. Things like theme, balance, audience, or playtesting that I never thought about when playing games became key aspects to focus on and dedicate time to when making our board game.
Another important thing I learned was working as a team on an open-ended project. At first, I was frustrated, as I have never worked on such an open-ended creative project with a team of innovative individuals, especially Stanford students. People all had their own great ideas, strong opinions, and enthusiasm. Being a freshman in America, coming from a public high school in China, this was a huge leap for me and my experience. As far as experience in high school goes, people never really stepped forward with their ideas and would willingly just submit to someone else’s idea.
However, I got used to this creative culture that nurtures ideas and teamwork by P3 and learned to listen to other people’s ideas and help develop them and also learned to take constructive criticism on my own ideas’ and polish them. After I got a hang of this, I was amazed how efficient and enthusiastic people could be if they put their mind into a shared and polished idea developed by the group, not by an individual.
Now let’s talk about the solo project of the class and also my favorite project in the class, the Interactive Fiction. I was never a artsy person, but my interest in video games, really allowed me to hone my creativity in this project. As I worked through the project, I learned about things to consider when making a video game that I have never thought about. Things like aesthetics, pacing, and values were all new lenses that I started look at my work with.
This was one of the school projects that I truly wanted to work on for the sake of it, not for grades, money, anything. Just for the sake of creating something. If I was writing a paper for PWR, I would want to hear nothing but words of affirmation from my professor. Not this time. I wanted to hear criticism, I wanted to hear weaknesses, and I wanted to hear honest opinions. I truly stopped caring about my grade for this project, and genuinely wished to build a fun, engaging, and meaningful game that would maybe be enjoyed by someone. This was truly an experience in creation, that I have never experienced before taking this class.
Not if but when I take a shot again at making another game, I would be much deeper into my CS education and would have much more tools at my disposal. When I make a game in the future, I would work better as a team, support and contribute ideas of my team, consider new topics I have learned, and most importantly, enjoy it.