During GDC 2014, I had a lot of great chances to talk to different people who work in the game industry. Before leaving GDC, the idea of categorising all these people in the game industry into three major classes came to my mind. Here I am sharing my thoughts about how these three types of people approach the games in the industry.
Some game designers are crafting their games very much like the same process how painters are composing their pictures. They both are expressing their ideas in their mind. These people design games by expressing what they see between their ears. They are fine artists, and they have a lot to tell. They enjoy expressing themselves more than other things. They care less about how to serve audiences or make money of them. They are surrounded by their ego aura, and they are gods to many people because they are the main force to create monumental masterpiece in this industry. They are avant-garde pioneers in this industry. Many people define them as “indie game developers” and different people hold different understanding for what an indie developer is. In my opinion, only the people who treat making games as a way to express themselves can be regarded as indie game developers, i.e. painters in the game industry.
They are a bunch of people who deeply believe that the process of developing a game is manageable if we always “fail faster and follow the fun”. This principle is already well rooted in each new game designer if he/she is recently graduated from academic environment. They worship playtesting as god, and they iterate their design based on data from players. Did player get stuck in this level for too long? At what point players will leave the game? Which part players like the most, and can we exploit that part more? They are creating games using scientific methodology which is very popular and successful in internet industry – “ship lean and iterate”. Many companies even ship a game only with core features and analyzing the user data to determine the future iterations. I appreciate that they do great jobs in serving us, we get a lot of fun from their games, and these games well fit our expectation for games.
We call crafting games as game industry because the fact that many people are fed by making games. Maybe twenty years ago, people flooded into this industry majorly because of passion. However, nowadays, we witness many designers with businessman’s nature in them. They design the game based on the market analysis, and they use the user data to maximise their benefits. Some designers can see far while others are shortsighted. The shortsighted designers don’t appreciate the fact that people are spending money for fun or experience, so that they can easily make the decisions to ruin the core part of the game for higher benefits. Long-sight designers know how to elicit the user’s need for the game in a sustainable way without undermining the fun.
Painters, scientists, and businessmen can all present us good games. Comparison among their abilities is pointless because they serve us in different ways. The important things for every designer is to think about are – what you are good at in terms of three different methodology, and which one do you want to be in your future?