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5:42pm on Wednesday, 7th February, 2018:



Every year, I run a class for my CE217 students in which I give them each a wad of A7-sized (so 8 to a sheet of A4) paper with the following printed on them: "Something that annoys me as a player of computer games is:". The students get to dump on any aspect of computer games they dislike.

Some of them write dozens of complaints. Others write three (which seems to be the indepedently arrived-at number that shows they've done something but really, this question is just too hard).

After most of them have finished (some would carry on all day if I let them), I throw their responses at a wall to shuffle them up, then add in a bunch from previous years. I dish them out to the students in groups and ask them to categorise the complaints. The aim of this is to show how naturally the complaints fall into particular hierarchies which mimic how computer games development companies are organised. Are the things the companies concentrate on in the belief that they're important actually important?

Over the years, though, I've accumulated quite a few of these complaints, so now they've begun to take on a secondary use that may come to dominate: appreciating that what other people think about games isn't necessarily what you think about games yourself. Part of being a game designer is knowing for whom you are designing, because if you want to speak to someone through your design (and you do, or you wouldn't be a game designer, you'd just be a designer of games) then you need to have an understanding of them.

The whiteboard I put the groups' categories on this time looked like this (some photo-manipulation to make it easier to read).

There was another board that tied these components together, but it's fairly obvious where they'd go. Two years ago, the board looked like this:

This is a far more complex board. The reason may be that there were 28 students involved in the categorisation process, whereas this year there were 17 (only 9 of whom were present at the start of the class).

Oh well.

This is what happens when you have 9am classes on a day with no other timetabled activities.

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