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Designing Games by Tynan Sylvester

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Chapter 12. Knowledge Creation

A GAME ISN’T AN object that we manufacture. It is a system of knowledge. It’s not a chess set. It’s chess.

Note

The hard part of game design is not physically implementing the game. It is inventing and refining knowledge about the design.

Consider the work of novel writing. The hard part about the novelist’s work is not typing the words—it is the arduous mental work of constructing interrelated characters, settings, themes, and plot turns.

In the same way, the major challenge faced by game designers isn’t implementing the game. It is inventing mechanics, fiction, art, and technology that interconnect into a powerful engine of experience. It is the process of creating the knowledge of the design that we are going to implement. This goes much further than just coming up with ideas. It means inventing those ideas, refining them, testing them, debating them, and linking them so that they work together. Doing this means answering many questions and eliminating many uncertainties. This means we have to create knowledge.

Knowledge Creation Methods

To create that knowledge, we deploy a variety of knowledge creation methods. Playtesting, brainstorming, discussion, debate, and daydreaming are all knowledge creation methods.

Think of each method as a card we can play. Different cards have different effects and consume different resources. For example, brainstorming uses multiple developers to quickly spawn many unproven ideas onto paper, while high-skill playtesting ...

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