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  • Game Design Challenge: Joy

    - staff
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Every other Wednesday we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have two weeks to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). After the two week submission period elapses, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted, along with some commentary.

    The Challenge

    Create joy.

    Assignment Details

    In his latest Designer's Notebook column, longtime Gamastura columnist and design consultant Ernest Adams discusses the idea of creating games purely to bring joy to players.

    Joy, he argues, is distinct from "fun", and all too often squashed out of games by complicated themes and boring, repetitive, or overly difficult gameplay

    Adams writes:  

    But isn't joy just fun by another name? Not quite. Joy is unmixed pleasure. Fun is more complicated. It can include the dark and dangerous. People think it's fun to go to horror movies, but horror movies don't elicit joy. Entertainment is richer still; it doesn't have to be fun at all. Serious movies such as Schindler's List and serious books such as Lolita aren't fun, much less joyful, but they are entertaining. Video games seem to be stuck in the middle.

    What kills joy? Almost anything, really; it's fragile. In games, any Twinkie Denial Condition will kill joy (and speaking of Twinkie Denial Conditions, December's column is the annual No Twinkie roundup, so send 'em if you got 'em). Marching kills joy: Grinding. Frustration. Repetition. So does negativity: Ugliness. Cruelty. Fear. Death. These are qualities we associate with hardcore games and with games made for teenage boys, to whom joy is a distinctly uncool emotion.

    Your job: create a game design that is centered around bringing joy to players.

    Make sure you read Adams' full column before you launch into your assignment.

    Any platform, genre, or concept is fine, as long as you keep in mind the central tenet of the assignment: Bring Joy Through Play.

    To Submit

    Work on your ideas, figure out your strategy for coming up with a solution, and ask questions on the forum. When your submission is complete, send it to [email protected] with the subject line "Design Challenge: ." Please type your answer directly in the email body.Joy"

    Submissions should be no more than 500 words and may contain up to three images. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

    Entries must be submitted by Thursday, November 11

    Results will be posted Tuesday, November 16

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.


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