Continuing my little journey (slow as it is) through Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design, lets have a look at chapters 1 through 4. I have to say I am enjoying Jesse's approach to the vast field of game design and he doesnt shy away from casting a wide net. In the first few chapters we take a look at game structure, notions of play and games, human experience and more. We are introduced to the first set of 'lenses' which form one of the key derivatives of the book, arming we designers with a suite of defined ways to examine our designs so we can see them more clearly and thus improve them.
The section on 'Three Practical Approaches to Chasing Rainbows' makes for good reading, briefly covering Psychology, Anthropology and Design as ways to understand games. We get a nice little trip through defining a game as we look at the experiences they instil. While I like the definitions he came up with, the one for game still seemed a little cold, that the idea of games being entertainment was lost a little as we already had a definition of fun. So I think bringing them together works - a game is a problem solving activity we engage in for fun.
He breaks down games into 4 Basic Elements: Mechanics, Story, Aesthetics and Technology and I like the idea of ensuring that each of these is given attention. He uses Space Invaders again in exploring this and he has some nice insights into this deceptively simple little game.
The book is proving very approachable, while also delving into the complex web of game design in a satisfying way. The lenses bring reflective clarity to his explorations - great stuff so far.
[original space invaders pic via gaminginyourblog.blogspot.com]