My game design endeavors have made me very receptive and in some ways extremely greedy about feedback on my work. In terms of game design, I believe that feedback based design changes are what make or break a game. Due to the overwhelmingly positive results of this playtesting – feedback methodology i now approach all of my work in a similar way. For the project in hand, i first figure out the optimal way to convey the core ideas of the project and then build a prototype based on that. After that it’s all about carrying around that prototype to engage in a discussion with people.
It might seem that this process is very specific to games or media, but actually it has wider applications than that. For example, when writing an academic paper, i have created prototypes in the form of logic models, index cards with core ideas of paragraphs and also slideshows to convey my ideas to experts and peers alike. The end goal of these is to get my ideas through and hence get better quality of feedback from participants. In game design projects, it is a common approach to create prototypes in the form of card games and board games even when the actual game is supposed to be digital. I did this with Monkey Swing over a year ago where i tested a board game version with kids before i wrote even a single line of code.
For my thesis project, my feedback collection approach has been very different depending on the committee member or peer i’m getting feedback from and also on the stage of the design. When i require feedback on conceptual arguments in my paper i usually present a visualization of my logic model. On the other hand, when the feedback is required on technical aspects i present the code or the flow chart of my algorithm. One common approach however is to provide a context of the project for which i demo my game with the expert, regardless of the type of feedback i’m looking for.
It goes without saying that i have incorporated tons of valuable feedback into my design. On a personal level it is extremely difficult to explain the exact way the feedback influenced my design. This is because whenever someone throws out an idea i try to build upon it and immediately start collaborating with them. This usually leads to a hybrid design change which is neither theirs nor mine. However, in some cases it is easier to differentiate ideas as they contradicting completely. In such cases i write them down in my notebook and reconsider the reasons which led me to choose option A instead of B.
To summarize, i have found the playtesting approach of feedback collection extremely helpful for my thesis project. I’ve created my own hybrid mess of a method for feedback collection which makes it difficult for me to isolate feedback from original ideas, but helps me immensely in my design process. This is a trade-off i’m happy to accept as i believe that good design and content is what matters the most in the end.
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