The Quest for Knowledge & The Quest for Validity

[Pre-production] & [Production]

Written by Tera Nguyen

When it comes to designing games, we as designers love coming up with ideas on what the end product may look like, what it might be, and how does it make us feel, because those are what excite us – the possibilities. Coming out from the course “Building Virtual Worlds” at the Entertainment Technology Center of Carnegie Mellon University – an intensive AR/VR prototyping course taught by Jesse Schell and Dave Culyba, we are also used to the instant gratification of having a playable build every 1-2 weeks, and the design process of having only two constraints: hardware and theme.

“Games For Change” is a project of constraints within a constraint, and the toughest part is that we have to identify what those constraints are. At the start of the project, they vaguely included a topic that is very broad, technology that has not been defined, a space and an audience we don’t get access to…

All of these constraints are nested within the most important question: What are we trying to change, and to whom?

Our team frequently ran into questions like, what are we doing, where do we start, how do we evaluate our thoughts and process. Through the practice of asking questions, finding ways to answer those questions and verifying those answers, we gradually experienced the differences between designing games for entertainment and games for social impact.

In the context of a project semester at the ETC, there are 2 additional constraints:

  1. The roles we play in our team’s setting, and
  2. The 16-week schedule with many possible ways to explore and refine.

So how can a producer help the team work with these constraints and navigate through the unknowns? My main responsibilities are to bring clarity to the team on the project’s goals and figure out ways to quickly test our design ideas.

Let’s go through our weekly dev blogs to see how we work on this project as a team, interpreted by my production-focused standpoint, as one of the co-Producers. Please note that some of the project constraints will be redefined as we go through the semester.