Gaming Weekend — Why Playing Games is Making Games

I played games all weekend on a remote island near Canada… DON’T MAKE ME COME BACK TO REAL LIFE :'(

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Magic the Gathering: Richard Garfield (EDH)

I think playing games is making games. Let me tell you why (plus pictures!)

Last weekend I went up to a place on the border of Canada and did what I always seem to do upstate, played a ton of games. I realized then that playing games is largely the same as making, or designing games. Let me explain why

Kodama: Daniel Solis

1. Playing a game involves understanding the rules: Games are pretty much just rules. If you are making your own game, one of the most complicated parts is understanding your own rules. That means conceptualizing them and designing them, of course, but that process is very similar to understanding rules written by another designer. Think about this, if you are designing your rules to suit another aspect of your game, like the theme, then aren’t you really just understanding them? (yes…)

The Mind: Wolfgang Warsch

2. Playing a game involves judging a game: If you have ever built a game of any kind you know that 90% of this process is judgment. A brilliant writer who’s name I have now forgotten once said, I am a good writer because I have good taste. He went on to explain that his taste for good writing led him to know that his early work was total garbage and that he would have to try harder, get better, write more, etc to be able to become a writer full time. The same thing applies to game design. If you want to make good games, judge the shit out of everyone else’s (unless you are in a friendly format, then be nice)

Black Hole Council: Don Eskridge

3. Playing multiple games (like I did) involves adjusting your expectations and adopting flexible thought patterns: This is probably why I consider playing games to be the most like building games. You can’t build game if you have only ever played Monopoly. If you did, you would build… Monopoly. That is why the table top industry is booming, because people like you and me, who have played games: different games, weird games, scary games, large scale games, social deception games, phone games, card games, (and the list goes on forever) have a wider pool of knowledge to reference when we make something of our own. Long story short, play more games.

As you may have guessed, these pictures are of some of the many games I played while upstate, but I didn’t just play these. FYI, I played Wiffle ball, Frisbee, some weird Frisbee football thing we made up, Kan-Jam (look it up, it’s great), soccer, swimming, cards, Crokinole (also amazing, please look up) and more. Playing lots of games, lots of different types of games, is what makes me a good game designer. What game have you played lately? What 10 games have you played lately? How are the different and how are they the same?

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