My name is Keith Burgun. I'm a game designer, artist, and composer primarily, but I also like to write about various topics regarding games. I've been writing for many years for other sites and a personal blog of my own, and in that time I've established some themes, which tend to recur in my writing. In this post, I'll share with you some of these themes, and you can be the judge as to whether I'm the kind of blogger you'd like to read regularly.
1. Games (computer or otherwise) are defined by gameplay
, and therefore I think gameplay should come first when creating a game. Some games coming out these days should have been books or movies or something else entirely; they would simply have been better had they been created in a medium that supported their goal. Designers should think hard about what their idea's goal is, and figure out if "game" is the best medium for it or not.
2. Games should have a strong design philosophy behind them.
Games should have a direct purpose, and all of the elements and mechanics in the game should be there to support that purpose. Also, all of the music, artwork, UI and other assets should be there to serve the game's purpose. Less is more - a mechanic which does not support the primary goal of the game is noise. Game Design is as much an art and a craft as music or visual arts or anything else.
3. Games don't get worse over time.
All the time, I hear nonsense like "Galaga
was really good for its time!" and "Mario 64
still looks good!". These sorts of statements are totally absurd, because Gradius and Mario 64 are exactly as much fun and look exactly the same as they did on the day they were released. I've worked in the retail industry and I can tell you that this idea is nothing but irrational consumerism. "The Sistine Chapel was really beautiful, for its time." That's what you sound like to me. Also, if you look back at a game from the past that you used to love, but now you see very clearly that it actually isn't good, it was never
good, you were wrong.
4. We need to separate "games" from "technology".
All games require some level of technology, but we need to be able to mentally distinguish the game from the media it is on, and that's not something we've been very good at with computer games. A good game is a good game, whether it's on an Atari 2600 or an XBox 360.
5. Formal game reviews do not exist.
If you look through sites found on MetaCritic
or on the newsstand, you'll find only catalogs. You might not realize how many people think that Game Informer
is actually a legitimate publication. You're better off reading the opinions of random people (like myself) than you are reading a review for Kirby's Epic Yarn
on a site that has Kirby's Epic Yarn
banners all over it. These companies are nothing more but the media arm of the industry.
6. The video game industry is currently in an artificially bloated, non-sustainable state.
We're already starting to see cracks forming as the industry sees more and more losses. For the longest time, they were able to keep the echo chamber loaded with hype, and they could rely on people not remembering what happened even a year ago so that they can sell you the same game, over and over and over again. Due to the rise of independent teams and the Internet (full of sites like Destructoid), I am positive that this will change, and I think it will change soon.
7. Games are not a new thing.
Games are not only an art form, they are one of the oldest art forms that exist. Computer game designers need to start realizing that the history of games goes back as far as that of music. Just as a good composer studies everything he can from the beginning of recorded music, a game designer should study everything from Go to Chess to Badminton. Especially Go.
Thanks for reading this list! I welcome discussion about these issues, and look forward to talking to you people more.
[i]If you want to know a little more about me (or if you hate everything I've said but rather than refuting it you'd rather go ad hominem on my ass), look up my first commercial game, 100 Rogues