Some Notes on the Nature of Game Design


The focus of this paper is to have a critical look at the current game design literature through the analytical lenses of the current state of the art in design research. The aim is not to create yet another prescriptive framework for game design but rather an attempt to connect the game design studies to general design studies in a stimulating way. We first discuss what has been said about design in general, including industrial and graphic design, engineering, architecture, and even software design. We will then continue discussing game design specifically compared to the design in general and point out similarities and especially differences. This leads us to a somewhat obvious claim that doing game design is an activity similar to any other design field but that the form and the content are specific to the game design context. Even though this claim might sound obvious it has some unexpected consequences: firstly, it grounds game design in the large body of existing design research and, secondly, it helps in identifying the crucial activities, forms, contents, and contexts that determine the nature of game design. We look at six game design books alongside two distinct but mutually supporting models of design in general. Our focus is in understanding game design as a situated activity and to see how this notion is discussed in the game design literature.