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The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

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Hello / In the Beginning, There Is the Designer / The Designer Creates an Experience / The Experience Takes Place in a Venue / The Experience Rises Out of a Game

Matthew Colon October 14, 2020
  1. How confident are you right now as a game designer?
  2. How are you currently trying and failing in game design?
  3. Which of the five kinds of listening do you feel you need to work on most (listening to your team, your audience, your game, your client, or your self)?
  4. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” How do these verses help us to develop the “major gift,” the “love of the work,” that skilled game designers need?
  5. How does the concept of venues change how you communicate about games? What venue do you tend to play in?
  6. What are examples of games with great endogenous value? Poor endogenous value?


Pick some of the lenses below and discuss their questions in regards to your own game projects:

Lens #1: The Lens of Emotion

  • What emotions would I like my player to experience? Why?
  • What emotions are players (including me) having when they play now? Why?
  • How can I bridge the gap between the emotions players are having and the emotions I’d like them to have?

Lens #2: The Lens of Essential Experience

  • What experience do I want the player to have?
  • What is essential to that experience?
  • How can my game capture that experience?

Lens #3: The Lens of the Venue

  • What type of venue best suits the game I’m trying to create?
  • Does my venue have special properties that will influence my game?
  • What elements of my game are in harmony with my venue? What elements are not?

Lens #4: The Lens of Surprise

  • What will surprise players when they play my game?
  • Does the story in my game have surprises? Do the game rules? Does the artwork? The technology?
  • Do your rules give players ways to surprise each other?
  • Do your rules give players ways to surprise themselves?

Lens #5: The Lens of Fun

  • What parts of my game are fun? Why?
  • What parts need to be more fun?

Lens #6: The Lens of Curiosity

  • What questions does my game put into the player’s mind?
  • What am I doing to make them care about these questions?
  • What can I do to make them invent even more questions?

Lens #7: The Lens of Endogenous Value

  • What is valuable to the players in my game?
  • How can I make it more valuable to them?
  • What is the relationship between value in the game and the players’ motivations?

Lens #8: The Lens of Problem Solving

  • What problems does my game ask the player to solve?
  • Are there hidden problems to solve that arise as part of gameplay?
  • How can my game generate new problems so that players keep coming back?