Some axioms about assessing play experiences

Game design answers the question "How does it play?" or "How does it feel?". An axiom that we can adopt is that games are experiential. That is  to say that they must be experienced to be understood. They must also be experienced to be assessed, so the best way to evaluate a game is to play that game. Also, we are not always the best assessors of a game that we had a hand in creating. There are too many investments on our part. In order to achieve some critical distance, the creator of the game should not be the assessor of the quality of the gameplay experience. Instead, the creator can - and should - be an observer to play testing. We have done this in the classroom by adopting roles of Participant Observation - adapted from Anthropology and Sociology. The students become reflective players in this model, providing critical feedback about their game play experience to the game designer (another student). Each student is a designer, and each student is a player.

  1. Rubrics
    1. there exist two primary levels of difficulty for a designer:
      1. is it fun for me?
      2. is it fun for someone else?
    2. the latter is particularly hard for a designer to achieve, even within the industry
    3. there are imperfect ways to measure "goodness" in game design:
      1. willingness of someone to play through to the end
      2. willingness of someone to play again
      3. willingness of someone to introduce the game to someone else
    4. there exists room to improve on these