One way to become an advocate for players is by being a better player yourself. By “better,” I don’t just mean more skilled or someone who wins all the time—although by studying game systems in depth, you will undoubtedly become a more skilled player.
What I mean is using yourself and your experiences with games to develop an unerring sense for good gameplay. The first step to practicing any art form is to develop a deep understanding of what makes that art form work. For example, if you’ve ever studied a musical instrument, you’ve probably learned to hear the relationship between the various musical tones.
You’ve developed an ear for music. If you’ve studied drawing or painting, it’s likely that your instructor has urged you to practice looking carefully at light and texture. You’ve developed an eye for visual composition. If you are a writer, you’ve learned to read critically. And if you want to be a game designer, you need to learn to play with the same conscious sensitivity to your own experience and critical analysis of the underlying system that these other arts demand.
look at the formal, dramatic, and dynamic aspects of games.
Together, the concepts in these chapters form a set of tools that you can use to analyze your game-play experiences and become a better, or more games. Everyone is creative in different ways.
Some people come up with lots of ideas without even trying. Others focus on one idea and explore all of its possible facets. Some sit quietly
in their rooms thinking to themselves, while others like to bounce ideas around with a group, and they find the interaction to be stimulating. Some
seek out stimulation or new experiences to spark their imaginations. Great game designers like WillWright tend to be people who can tap into their
dreams and fantasies and bring those to life as interactive experiences.
Another great game designer, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, says that he often looks to his childhood and to hobbies that he enjoys for inspiration. “When I was a child, I went hiking and found a lake,” he says. “It was quite a surprise for me to stumble upon it.
When I traveled around the country without a map,trying to find my way, stumbling on amazing things as I went, I realized how it felt to go on an adventure like this.”2
Many of Miyamoto’s games draw from this sense of exploration and wonder that he remembers from childhood.
Think about your own life experiences. Do you have memories that might spark the idea for a game?
One reason that childhood can be such a powerful inspiration for game designers is that when we are children, we are particularly engrossed in playing games. If you watch how kids interact on a playground, it’s usually through gameplaying.
They make games and learn social order and group dynamics from their play. Games permeate all aspects of kids’ lives and are a vital part of their developmental process. So if you go back to your childhood and look at
things that you enjoyed, you’ll find the raw material for games right there.