Why do you design games?

I'm curious, why do you design games?


  • edited April 2017
  • I like the challenge of solving the puzzle (GameChef, NaGaDeMon/SGAM), crafting the elegant mechanic, making something new and sharing it, of exercising my creativity in a medium that I love.
  • To provoke specific ideas and emotions in my players (for the artsy games) and just sheer fun and mayhem.
    Sometimes, though, my goals and the end result vary a lot. My bitter family drama turned out to be a comedy when it hit the players.
  • For me the fun of game design comes in critiquing of the game's subject matter, and I'm especially enamored with the kind of criticism that ends up rebuilding the critical subject into something else (i.e. adaptation, translation, and cetera).
  • To get it right, to answer the conundrum, to express a stance.
  • Because nobody else has made the game I want to play.
  • edited April 2017
    Other people's games are mostly too complex, the rules don't control play as much as I'd like, and the game fiction is not world-weary enough. ;) I adapt lots of stuff I like, though.
  • Because I get ideas in my head and the only way to get them out is to write them down.
  • Because I get ideas in my head and the only way to get them out is to write them down.

  • Because I get ideas in my head and the only way to get them out is to write them down.

    This is me. I've been making games as long as I can remember. Board games, card games, video games, RPGs. I don't think I *can't* make games.

    There's a million ideas for games burning and fighting in my head for the chance to be created, and if I don't actively keep working on some of them I'm in torment. The greatest regret in my life is that when I finally expire (hopefully many decades hence) there will still be thousands of unborn ideas that go to the grave with me.

    But, yeah, I love mechanics and systems and rules and discovering emergent complexity and strategy... but ultimately I design games so I can sleep at night.
  • For me it is usually one of the following:

    * I enjoy the mental problem-solving challenge involved in putting together something with multiple moving parts. Exercise for the brain is always welcome (and has proven benefits from a medical point of view, as well!).

    * It is a "what if?" exercise, where something sparks a thought in mind. Once it's there I want to see how it plays out.

    * A game exists that I want to play, but it's too complex, so I want to create a simpler version of the same which will give me the same (or a similar) play experience. Of course, in the process, it tends to be transformed significantly. (Usually, it's "simpler"... sometimes it's simply "different", in which case the line between design and hacking gets pretty blurry.)

    * A game exists which I like, but I consider it flawed, so I decide to put together a "working" version.

    * I have a group of friends with particular needs or interests, and I want to create something which they will enjoy (and, presumably, existing games don't fit the bill). Often, these are non-gamers.

    * An interesting game theory discussion seems to be going nowhere. Putting together a "proof of concept" seems like the most effective way to take the conversation to the next step - via an illustration, as it were, instead of simply talking.

    * There's something I want to do in gaming, and there's no game out there which does that.

    For me to actually sit down and design, I usually need several of these priorities or circumstances to align.
  • I like the challenge of creating something that doesn't exist, and the reason it doesn't exist is because it's difficult and noone has yet figured out an elegant, workable solution. But more than that, I'm designing games that I want to play. I like indie games much more than those from big publishers because they are working with new ideas and play styles, they are innovativing and they are doing so many new and different things. I like to design, because role-playing is much more than it has been in the past, and I'm very excited about what we can do with it in the future.
  • Same here, I find lots of games I like to play but can't stand how they are played, explained or they just feel inefficient to reach the goals they propose. So I start hacking, bringing stuff from other games, until I get what I want and/or get distracted by the next shiny thing.
  • That's a good point, Jeff!

    A lot of games that try to appeal to large numbers of gamers play it very "safe" (like the new D&D, for example), in order not to scare anyone away.

    "Indie" games are often refreshing in their fearless approach to design: "If you don't like it, screw you!" Designing for yourself allows you to do as much of that as you like.
  • Two reasons:

    1) To have more better fun at my table.
    2) To see if I can find a way to pass that on.
  • I was thinking "all of the above" especially along the lines of James' but the truth is:

    I started because one of my players complained that the SHRPGs I was trying to "run" didn't feel like the comics. (Really early 1980's). I knocked up a quick "hack" to teach him a lesson and - lightning in a bottle - it worked.

    Someone told me that I no longer owned/couldn't republish the above game (early 21st century) and I knocked up a better game in a fit of anger. It gave me an excuse to go to lots of conventions to "playtest" the rules.

    I got fed up with that game - the typical SHRPG long combats - and tried to create a lightweight SHRPG that wasn't so combat oriented. This gave me an excuse for another round of "playtesting" at conventions.

    Someone told me my lightweight SHRPG wasn't an SHRPG but could be used for other genres. I tried it. He was wrong. But it was easy to adapt for other genres. I changed it into a SciFi game and it worked.

    I went to a convention with the theme of "steel" so I adapted my rules to SteamPunk.

    So I could offer a D&D game at a convention but to avoid edition wars/upskilling to the latest version, I got into The Black Hack. Because I could, and because no one else had done it properly yet - I wrote "The Super Hack" overnight as a sort of mental exercise and published it as a cash grab. (I'm not 100% pleased with myself for my reasons for doing this but it's still a cheap, easy to play, workable game.)

    There's more to the story but I'm pleased to say I'm not allowed to say any more.

    So normally its outside influences and pressures and - initially - fuelled by being angry at someone about something. I also enjoy being able to call myself an "author", put my books in raffles, blag free entry to conventions and being listed on their web-sites as a "guest".
  • Because I'm happy when doing it.
  • It's pretty dependant on the project for me. I wrote Legend of the Elements for what I'm getting is the standard reason - nothing did the subject in a way I found compelling, fun, or functional. I wrote Diadem to teach people about a cool moment in history and to make use of the oodles of info I'd recently collected. I'm writing Bootstrapping because I have a message I want to communicate. And TITAN/child I wrote because I had ideas that needed to be purged from my head and putting them down on paper was a decent way to do it. So I really don't have any single reason why I make games.
  • Many of the well put reasons stated above plus one more I haven't noticed in this discussion: ease of access. As long as I have some free time I have everything I need to brainstorm and puzzle through the hodge of ideas that bubble up. The excitement of finding pieces that fit together is really rewarding. It's also very rewarding to play a good game with a group of people. But getting that group together... that doesn't happen easily in my life. I get one or two chances a month to play, but I can work on games almost every day. I just wish I was better at finishing games!
  • Because nobody else has made the game I want to play.
    This is pretty much the starting point for most hacks or designs I pursue.

  • RyRy
    edited April 2017
    I design out of frustration with the games I can buy. Mostly that has to do with the kinds of fiddly bits - books, reference sheets, tables - that we keep at the table. Those can help or distract from the shared imagined space, which I'm all about. So I'm into things that minimize distractions and eliminate nose-in-book disease.
  • For my few non-trivial games, it's been an attempt to have a particular gaming experience myself.
  • Like so many of you people, apparently, my head too is full of games - or, rather, pieces of games that collide with each other. Game-design, especially at the level of little mechanical details, is almost a default state my brain falls back to when relaxing or - at the opposite - trying to cope with bad stuff. On occasion I've even woken up in the morning remembering pieces of game mechanics I'd literally dreamed up in my sleep.
    There's a simple explanation to all that, of course, which is that for the best part of my life I have voluntarily occupied my mind with exactly that kind of stuff - thus training my brain to behave like that.

    Anyway, that's the easy part. The hard part is actually putting those bits and pieces to some use - that's where the real game-design work starts. And, even worse, managing to communicate all those things in a way which makes sense to anybody else, at all - that's the hardest of the hardest.
  • edited April 2017
    Exoterically, to entertain and edify.
    Esoterically, to understand the world by modeling it.
    It's just what my brain does; build symbolic systems for things. If RPGs didn't exist I'd either invent them, or I'd be involved in some other complex modeling of reality; a blend of mystical and scientific - because both are systems of understanding the world - with narrative - because that's how humans tend to understand events in the world.

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