Game Design

What Do Your Game Designs Say On Your Behalf?

It’s easy to see someone’s writing as representative of his/her views. The words are right there expressing ideas in a very direct way.

Similarly, a movie can have a certain message buried in it. Sometimes the message is a bit more obvious because it hits you over the head.

Games are no different. The verbs inherent in a game tell you what the designers thought were important.

Some games aren’t saying much. It’s hard to get political with Pong or Angry Birds.

But other games say a lot.

Why are women almost always portrayed as damsels in distress? Why are they seen often as rewards for the player? What does it say about the designers’ view of women?

Why are many games about violence? What does it say about the designers’ position on how best to handle conflict?

You could argue, “But they’re just games!”

But I think games are important, and I think they can have a great impact.

I’m not saying that playing games can turn you into a mass murderer.

But I am saying that the message of games can influence someone’s thinking in a subtle way.

Maybe the next time you bump into someone you’ll see it as an act of aggression to be responded to in kind instead of the accident it was. Maybe you’ll be more inclined to scream obscenities at someone when you’re angry instead of discussing your differences. Maybe you’ll be more interested in winning an argument than in finding common ground with your spouse.

Or maybe you’ll be more inclined to cooperate with your coworkers. Maybe you’ll value puzzle-solving over brute-force. Maybe you’ll see people as equals instead of as resources in your quest.

The messages of your game designs can say a lot about your worldviews. Are you being careful with the messages your games send on your behalf?