What makes a good video game? What makes a game fun to play, and how can we make them better? These are the types of questions I’ll be hoping, in part, to answer in my writings here at Super Turnip. I’m looking to provide an analysis of the way games are constructed, as well as how they work, and why they either fail or succeed in their design choices. Primarily this will begin with an exploration of what behaviors players are rewarded for, and how the game does that. Why do we attribute value to these rewards, and is there an objective value to one over another? Is the correlation between the behavior and the reward important? The idea of rewarding behavior seems rooted in psychology, and it may be, but I will at least initially begin from a critical perspective, and try not to delve too deeply into the human mind, as that is not my expertise.
For the most part, I will write about single-player console games, but there will be exceptions to this. Platformers, SHUMP’s and RPG's are my main genres of concern for now, but that range will surely expand.
So, why am I doing this? Complaints I might hear on my endeavors are: “They’re just games,” “What’s the point?” or worst of all, “Sirlin.net has already got this covered.” For those of you who don’t know what Sirlin.net is, it’s a website devoted to writings on game design, mostly console based.http://www.sirlin.net/
While I admire some of his writings, when it comes to single-player game design, I find that he oversimplifies his findings, or ends up repeating what we as gamers have already found to be true. Sometimes, I think he just simply comes up with bad ideas, as in his article on adventure games (http://www.sirlin.net/Features/feature_RethinkingStoryGames.htm
), although it must be admitted that since he does game design for a living, he has more practical experience in the area than I do. However, I highly advise that you check out his articles on Hiding Secrets in Platform Games
, as well as his series about competitive multiplayer gaming called ”Playing to Win”
. I believe that this is the area where the author really excels, and has contributed much to the gaming public’s understanding of what the meanings of “cheapness” and “honor” are in these types of games.
But enough about Sirlin…the point is that I hope to go deeper than he ever did in exploring (mostly) single-player game design, and to really fire up more interest in this new field of critical analysis. Most importantly, I want these types of analyses to one day be as widely discoursed upon and seriously accepted as such works on other, more established art forms as literature and film.
For now, the journal will consist of just my own ramblings, but I hope to turn this into a collective publication; if you would like to join as a writer, simply e-mail me an original article on game design that you have written. If I approve it, then you can post new articles to the journal, but as moderator, I will still ultimately have to review them. I don't expect anyone to meet my standards any time soon, but anyone is welcome to submit their articles.
So in closing, I hope you all enjoy and gain something from my writings, and that you will care enough to comment on them. Thank you, all future loyal readers!