Reject genre

Genre is repetition

Genre is not design, it is mimicry

Genre is safety-- copying proven mechanics as a method of risk mitigation

Relying on genre is reiterating the experiences of an established archetype

Deconstruct genre and repurpose the relevant components to your own ends

Design toward the novel experiences of uncommon characters

Express feelings you've had in your own life; convey them to the player through interaction

Embrace adaptations; use an existing fictional character's arc of experience as an aesthetic target

Utilize the MDA framework; strive to achieve verisimilitude of player response through meaningful interaction

Simulate all facets of a character's experience, not just those that are easy or familiar

I do not want to continuously inhabit the role of the one-dimensional superhuman dynamo gunning down waves of enemies. I do not need more power fantasies, juvenile wish fulfillment, or violent catharsis.

Give me new roles, new worlds, new feelings. Design.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me a bit of "DESIGN IS LAW," but yes, I agree.

Steve gaynor said...

I'd never pictured myself being compared to John Romero, but here we are.

MiWi said...

more people should read this, and understand this. I'm thinking about maybe translating this to post on my blog... if I do that, I'll comment here again :P I hope you don't mind (?).

MiWi said...


here it is :) It's got a link to your blog and stuff, so everyone will know the text is originally yours.

I dont know if you understand anything about Portuguese, but, well :p take a look anyway ^^"

Steve gaynor said...

Translated into Portugese! This post is just full of firsts. Thank you for this lovely compliment, Cindy.

MiWi said...

You're welcome :)

People liked your "credo", btw.

Here is a translation of some comments:

"And, like always, design, suffers because of the archetypes and patterns repeated hundreds of times

That's way things outside the pattern are so succesful... or not!
But, the fun is on the challenge, right?"
-by DNA

"I completely agree, but we are indie developers. I think the most brilliant minds in this area are 'under the claws of marketing and industry', and are "forced" to develop clones of succesful projects"
-by pedroFernandes

If everyone only went for innovation, there would be no patterns to be broken, besides inovation itself, and the system would collapse.

What I mean is... I think that we should analyse and observe games, and know that your game won't be the most innovative in the world, nut knowing that there are patterns may help you to see what patterns are good for project and which ones should be changed.

It's important to know the patterns, even if it's not your intention to break them.
- by me ;p

Rest assured, my Portuguese writing is just way better than my English writing... ;p

Michael Abbott said...

I occasionally teach playwriting to undergraduates, and there is nothing you've written here that isn't also applicable to them as well. I will share your credo with them, replacing the MDA framework with solid dramatic structure.

Inspired. Thanks, Steve.

Don Pachi said...

I could get behind that. It would be interesting if more games were created from this perspective.

I agree with you about genre (if I understood you correctly). It's a bunch of safe, proven conventions. Borrowing from those conventions isn't inherently wrong by any means, but the borrowing should be done purposefully, with fundamental understanding of all the component parts. The reason games like Street Fighter II or Half-Life were groundbreaking was because their designs were so intentional and well-executed--these games redefined genres, but didn't make genres.

Other games then started copying, then other games copied those games. It's little wonder why so many of those types of games are so bland and forgettable. Still, making games is inherently pretty hard from what I understand, and copying proven conventions is one way to take some of the burden off (risk mitigation, as you said). Yet you risk putting out something derivative and redundant.

I think many players want a sense of comfortable familiarity when coming into an experience for the first time, and this is where certain time-tested mechanics and conventions can help ease them into an experience. Once you do have them on the hook, though, there's no good reason not to try and subvert their expectations in novel ways.