Basic Introduction to Game Design

Conceptualization and Idea Generation

Welcome to week six in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Make sure to read the syl­labus and course infor­ma­tion before you con­tin­ue. In this post, we will dis­cuss the con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion process in game design. This text fol­lows close­ly from our text­book (Game Design Workshop, Chapter 6). After hav­ing dis­cussed game sys­tems, and the roles that skill, prob­a­bil­i­ty, and chance play in games, we are shift­ing our focus to the idea of con­cept gen­er­a­tion. We need not define the act of gath­er­ing togeth­er game con­cepts as a fixed process. In fact, often, it is not. However, there are some meth­ods and tech­niques that will help you become more struc­tured in cre­at­ing your game ideas.

Where do you get your game concepts from?

Similar to most cre­ative process­es, your game ideas can be inspired by any­thing and any­one around you. Ideas are every­where. Being curi­ous helps; so does writ­ing things down. It is a good prac­tice to car­ry a small note­book with you to jot down game design ideas (rough ones) as they come to you. You can always elab­o­rate on them lat­er, but you will be prone to for­get if you do not record them. To help cod­i­fy a more for­mal game con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion process, our text­book dis­cuss­es five stages of cre­ativ­i­ty:

  1. Preparation. You study a top­ic or set of prob­lems deeply and gain deep under­stand­ing  of your cho­sen area of inter­est.
  2. Incubation. You keep the sub­ject mat­ter in your mind for a while, but are not con­scious­ly work­ing toward any par­tic­u­lar idea.
  3. Insight. Your aha-moment, when your idea starts mak­ing sense and works itself into a con­cept.
  4. Evaluation. You eval­u­ate your idea in terms of val­ue of pur­suit, that is to say, on the basis of orig­i­nal­i­ty, fea­si­bil­i­ty, and any poten­tial mar­ket val­ue.
  5. Elaboration. You for­mu­late your idea com­plete­ly and turn it into a sol­id con­cept. This is the hard­est part of ideation.

The stages of this process are not always lin­ear, and can be revis­it­ed in iter­a­tive cycles. The speed at which an idea turns into a con­cept depends on the per­son and any applic­a­ble envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, such as the avail­abil­i­ty of infor­ma­tion­al resources or help­ful col­leagues. Also keep in mind that many game design­ers are inspired by oth­er media as well as their envi­ron­ment. The things around you can trig­ger sev­er­al iter­a­tions of the cre­ative process to occur every day, and it is up to you to turn those ideas into real­i­ties. Continue read­ing