The Battle of a Game Director in Creating a Good Game: Exploring Fun and Trading Off Anxiety

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Sep 23, 2023

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The Battle of a Game Director in Creating a Good Game: Exploring Fun and Trading Off Anxiety

Creating a game that is enjoyable and successful is no easy task. It requires the game director to navigate the exploration of fun while also managing the anxieties that come with the process. In almost every production, there is a need for revisions and reworks. The easiest way to alleviate anxiety is to surrender control. Game directors are professionals who constantly face uncertainties and make decisions that are not guaranteed to succeed. They must provide a sense of confidence to their team while leading them through the fog of uncertainty. However, when plans fail, team members may start to question if they should continue following the director. This aspect of the role can be incredibly challenging.

It has been discovered that Japanese people have a tendency to be more anxious compared to people from other countries. This may explain why Japanese individuals have a strong affinity for cute things, as cute objects provide a form of escapism from anxiety. On the other hand, Westerners may not have the same level of need for cuteness, as their anxieties may not be as prominent. Understanding these cultural differences is important for game directors, as they need to consider how to address the anxieties of their team members effectively.

The MDA framework is a useful tool in game design. It divides the essence of a game into three components: Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics. By utilizing this framework, game designers can evaluate, analyze, and conduct research on game design. To create an engaging game, it is necessary to iterate and explore the essence of fun. However, excessive iterations can destabilize the team and lead to project failure. The key is to strike a balance between exploring fun and maintaining stability within the team.

What should a game director do if they stumble upon an exciting and potentially marketable idea midway through development? Should they abandon the previous design and start from scratch, or should they discard the newly discovered concept? These decisions can be challenging, and opinions from the design team and external contractors may differ. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Even renowned companies like Disney and Pixar employ methods that may not be considered efficient or smart, but they still manage to create successful projects. In the game industry, escaping these challenges is not possible if the goal is to create a high-quality game. The more exceptional the game, the higher the percentage of discarded content, reaching rates as high as 95% to 60%.

Creating products based on false information prevents a deep understanding of the essence of the product. It is essential to confront reality as a team rather than resorting to deception. Building a tough team that can collectively identify goals and face reality is crucial for success.

In contrast, product management differs significantly from other roles in the development process. It is not about defining the business case, market requirements, or simply gathering requirements. Product management is not project management or product marketing either. Product managers have the responsibility of discovering a product that is useful, usable, and feasible. Their focus is on the discovery process, understanding market needs, and aligning them with technological capabilities.

To navigate the challenges of game development and product management, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Foster open communication within the team: Encourage team members to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas openly. This will help create a transparent and collaborative environment where everyone feels valued.
  • 2. Embrace failure and learn from it: Understand that failure is a part of the iterative process. Encourage experimentation and view failures as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • 3. Prioritize user research and feedback: Actively seek input from the target audience throughout the development process. This will ensure that the final product meets their needs and desires.

In conclusion, the role of a game director is a constant battle between exploring fun and managing anxieties. It requires navigating uncertainties, making tough decisions, and leading a team through the challenges of game development. By embracing open communication, learning from failures, and prioritizing user research, game directors can increase their chances of creating a successful and enjoyable game.

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