Game Design Document

While many consider the Game Design Document (GDD) to be an essential element of the development, there are some that feel it is not necessary. As you move into the creation of the GDD for your proposed learning game, what aspects of it do you see and relevant, and which do you feel may not be. Also, in what ways would you modify the GDD to improve its effectiveness within an evolving educational sphere? Provide more than just opinion. Back up your reasoning and perceptions with examples and works.

As a teacher, I can definitely see a purpose in the game design document. One of the most important aspects of creating a game is thinking through what the purpose of the game is and how the game will be able to meet that purpose. Having taught programming and robotics for competition, everything in those courses revolves around games.

It is important to think through the elements of any game creation so that the players not only want to play, but enjoy the experience. The more the elements of the game tie together, the better the experience for the end user. When the game elements do not relate to one another, it leaves the player less intrigued and likely less willing to continue playing.

As I began the process of making my own game design document (GDD), I started to piece the game together considering all of the elements that will help form the game. What I realized is that I really hadn’t thought it all through. Even after creating it, I know I am likely still missing elements. But as I was sharing the features, it occurred to me that simple elements didn’t tie together.

For instance, I had points when the student got a question right, however, those points really didn’t tie into to the theme or purpose of the game, so ultimately I illuminated them. I could come up with ways to bring them in, but nothing that truly tied to the theme. I also noticed that my leveling wasn’t really purposeful. After a bit of thought, it occurred to me how I could design those layers so that each one of them was a unique path along the way of the character and tied into the overall theme seamlessly, creating a storyline that allowed for distinct points of interest.

Quite a few websites discuss the GDD and its purpose in the role of game design. While reviewing several of them, I kept coming across a theme of negativity. So many people are ready to move past them as they do not feel they are critical in the creation of a game. However, if they aren’t using one or a variation of one, they likely are designing “on-the-fly”. By that I mean, they are probably not deeply considering each element until a question is asked regarding it or until it becomes the sole focus before they can move on. While I think this may be one approach to creation, I do not believe it is the most effective or thorough way to create.

As one article I read suggested, it is key to consider all elements within the design and document them, as the mind is not designed to remember details for long stretches. Over time, what we think we remember morphs and becomes something new as details become hazy. It was suggested then that our starting point and guide, without documentation will not be what we end up with simply because the human mind can’t retain the details needed like a written document to keep us on track. For that reason alone, I think the GDD is a critical piece in the design of a game. I am sure the debate will continue, as everyone has their own way of doing things, but I believe from the research presented to me that GDD’s will remain as part of the game design structure for a long time.

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