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What is a game designer?

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radioactivemouse
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The more and more I do game design, the more I see a lot of people "try", meaning they are doing this as a go-to or some sort of place to go because there's not many options for them out in the world (but they love games like no one does). I mean, in this day and age, we have pretty much most of the tools at our disposal to make board or card games.

I don't see this as a bad thing, necessarily, but it makes me want to ask the question:

What exactly is a game designer?

I know when I discuss topics like "What is a gamer?", I simply like to say, "someone who enjoys games.

But a game...designer is different. They are not the end-user, they are the content creator. There's a certain level of...professionalism that comes with the territory. We all know this because of how difficult it is to design and produce a game (much less get positive reviews) in this day and age.

I mean, many of us are all movie watchers, and many of us have the tools to make a movie...more or less. Does that mean we are movie producers? Is there a certain kind of education that a movie producer needs in order to be called a producer (or even a director)?

Some might say, "You're professional if you've made money". Yes, this can be true. But I used to sell dungeon crawl games on a grid paper to my friends for $1 when I was in middle school, so does that make me more of a game designer than a person that's failed in their Kickstarter attempt on a game they've been working on for a couple of years? Are we both game designers?

Some might also say, "You're a game designer if you have education/experience in game design". Well, I know for a fact that a lot of people on these forums are first-time "game designers", trying to get experience and advice. But does this put them on a level like the member lewpuls, who's not only published games, but teaches and also has a regular youtube video series teaching game design? Are the both game designers?

Some may word it differently. "Freelance" or "Up-and-coming" or "Professional" may be used. But where (if there is one) is the line? Should there be a line? Should we have distinctions of people that have published games as opposed to people that are still trying to get their first game out? Certainly someone that's published a game has the know-how to help others as opposed to the "blind leading the blind". Should we know the difference between someone that has a lot of experience as opposed to someone with none? If one has made games their whole lives, or even has an education but has nothing published, they certainly have more experience than a newbie on this forum.

Me? I think the term "game designer" is too general. But what do you guys think?

ElKobold
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While knowing "who is who"

While knowing "who is who" with fanfares and regalias or whatnot might be beneficial to evaluate advice given, it might also lead to elitism. Which is probably not a good thing.

I believe that after spending some time on the forum, and with more experience one gains, it all becomes rather clear anyway.

Just my 2 cents.

X3M
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I sense a bit of frustration?

I sense a bit of frustration? Right?
But I agree.

radioactivemouse wrote:

Should we have distinctions of people that have published games as opposed to people that are still trying to get their first game out?

I would say yes. But how would we do that?

radioactivemouse wrote:

Certainly someone that's published a game has the know-how to help others as opposed to the "blind leading the blind". Should we know the difference between someone that has a lot of experience as opposed to someone with none? If one has made games their whole lives, or even has an education but has nothing published, they certainly have more experience than a newbie on this forum.

Me? I think the term "game designer" is too general. But what do you guys think?

Sometimes a newbie/noob can come up with a briljant idea. Sometimes a "professional" can completely stop someone in their tracks.

Thus while I think it is a good idea to give people title's. I also think that it would be a good idea to allow people to give points?
If someone posts a good idea or suggesiton. A point should be added. If someone posts something that is stupid or retarded. A downvote should be in order.

A suggestion that doesn't work would simply mean no vote.

However, politics would take over slowly but certain, if everyone is allowed to vote. "Elitism" as Ekobold has put it. Thus I would suggest that only the topic starter can give out points.

Missconceptions are something that bother me too on this forum. Some new people might think that I am experienced (I am not!). And I am certain that some think "useless/ill" of me.
However, I am NOT a game designer. And have said so before. Where would you fit a Hobbiest like me? That works primarily on only 1 game? But loves to ask, read and give suggestions as well? Not even trying to make money.

let-off studios
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Semantics & Definitions

I rambled on a bit in my original response to this. I've done my best to pare it down, below.

You could reduce this debate to "One is what one does," if you like. Someone who writes is an author, while someone who designs games - going through the process of realizing their idea in the real world instead of simply wondering about what it would be like on the table - is a game designer. Someone who blogs about game design is a writer. Someone who creates a card game about being a 1920's weird fiction author is a game designer.

Do they still do it, or are they a "former practitioner?" Have they been published or not? Have they published a LOT of titles, or are they a first-time published designer? I think that largely it's objective when you start adding descriptors to someone's "title," but their opinions and input can be subjectively applied and considered.

It's -my- job as a designer to critically weigh and examine all the input here and apply it as I see fit. It's imminently possible that I could benefit from the input of everyone at this forum. It's all in how I choose to/find a way to use that input.

Sometimes the advice is as simple as, "Don't do what that person did." That helps me become a better designer because I don't have to tread down that same path, reinvent the wheel, and ultimately fail at my task. Learning from others' mistakes - whether they are amateurs or professionals - is valuable.

Quote:
Certainly someone that's published a game has the know-how to help others as opposed to the "blind leading the blind".
I completely agree with that sentiment. The challenge is to begin the process of refinement and critique. As long as it doesn't stay a "circle-jerk" or self-congratulatory echo chamber, to a certain point - what I would call "the beginning of my career" - I think it's okay for the blind to lead the blind. In those situations I think it's vital for the design group to always be on the lookout for additional input to further inform their practice.

adversitygames
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I'm a game designer. I design

I'm a game designer. I design games. I'm not a pro as I don't make money on it (yet...).

But so what?
Someone being a pro game designer or a first-timer trying to kickstart or an ambitious beginner who doesn't have any formal game design education or what-have-you is at most a potential place to start.

Like if you want to seek out specific advice, approaching someone who is published might be a good place to start the search. It takes some knowledge and skill to achieve a published game or to launcher a kickstarter.

But that's all it is, an idea of what they've done and so something that they might have interesting knowledge about.

Once you start talking to someone, it doesn't matter any more. Their ideas need to be judged on their own merit. I don't think a rating system would really add anything. It would be a mistake to judge their ideas different just because they have a high rating or are branded a "pro". After all, anyone can publish a game if they just get one sale through TGC. Just like almost anyone can form and own a company. It doesn't change the value of their ideas.

Eg
Someone might have no credentials but because of their own private study and curiosity have quality knowledge and the desire and skill to communicate it - or they might have multiple published games but not be interested in taking the time to talk about it seriously or not be very good at explaining it.

And if you want to know if someone is a published designer (because like I described above, that can be useful information) there's already a list of BGDF designers that are published isn't there?

let-off studios
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Feedback Systems

X3M wrote:
Thus while I think it is a good idea to give people title's. I also think that it would be a good idea to allow people to give points?
If someone posts a good idea or suggesiton. A point should be added. If someone posts something that is stupid or retarded. A downvote should be in order.

A suggestion that doesn't work would simply mean no vote.

I'd be wary of following any system that allows for "downvoting." There will inevitably be an emergence of those who have their own arbitrary standards - or even guided by base envy - that will encourage them to downvote something.

This muddies the content even further when they feel they have to "legitimize" their downvote by stating, "Well everyone is upvoting all the time, so I'm just downvoting to balance it out." That kind of behaviour invalidates (or at minimum reduces the usefulness of) any kind of feedback system based on likes and dislikes.

Combine that with a "merit" system, where some users' feedback is worth more "points" than others. You end up with a favorites system that's more about currying favor with the high-ranking folks instead of regarding input on it's own merit.

Facebook learned from MySpace to remove any kind of "thumbs down" system, while YouTube has fallen into the same MySpace feedback pit. At least they're keeping their thumbs-up egalitarian, where everyone's feedback is worth the same.

X3M
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let-off studios wrote:X3M

let-off studios wrote:
X3M wrote:
Thus while I think it is a good idea to give people title's. I also think that it would be a good idea to allow people to give points?
If someone posts a good idea or suggesiton. A point should be added. If someone posts something that is stupid or retarded. A downvote should be in order.

A suggestion that doesn't work would simply mean no vote.

I'd be wary of following any system that allows for "downvoting." There will inevitably be an emergence of those who have their own arbitrary standards - or even guided by base envy - that will encourage them to downvote something.

This muddies the content even further when they feel they have to "legitimize" their downvote by stating, "Well everyone is upvoting all the time, so I'm just downvoting to balance it out." That kind of behaviour invalidates (or at minimum reduces the usefulness of) any kind of feedback system based on likes and dislikes.

Combine that with a "merit" system, where some users' feedback is worth more "points" than others. You end up with a favorites system that's more about currying favor with the high-ranking folks instead of regarding input on it's own merit.

Facebook learned from MySpace to remove any kind of "thumbs down" system, while YouTube has fallen into the same MySpace feedback pit. At least they're keeping their thumbs-up egalitarian, where everyone's feedback is worth the same.

If you put it that way. That makes much more sense. Than only upvoting would have some merit. IF we even consider this option. And you are right, I have seen that behavior too!

What do you think about allowing only the topic creator to have this upvote system?

Or would it be beneficial to have it open for everyone?

Would it be beneficial to have it on a responce specific like YouTube has?

What about different types of up votes like in Facebook?

Personally, I would like to see an upvoting system. It might encourage people to respond and give feedback.

questccg
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The Question is?

Q:"Am I a Game Designer because I have designed A GAME?"

From my very personal experience, my first game attempt "Quest Adventure Cards(tm)" was my attempt to make a game. At that time I had little knowledge of "Game Mechanics" and wanted to publish a "Collectible Card Game" with preset Quests.

To make a long story short - I made a lot of errors. Which was to be honest, normal since it was my first attempt to make, sell and self-publish a game. I invested way too much, the business model was flawed, I could not get local distribution, etc.

But still I use it as my Avatar and identity (questccg). I'm not overjoyed by the results of the effort put into the game... But without knowing much about "Game Mechanics" and the type of games "out there", it was a simple game of "Set Collection" with a little "Take-That".

However from other designers I was introduced to other games and continue to learn more through watching videos of popular games and their reviews. I know it does not make me an "expert" in these game - but it has helped me to learn more about the games that are sort of staples in the industry.

So we return to the question at hand:

Q:"Am I a Game Designer because I have designed A GAME?"

What if I STOP designing for 1, 2, 5, 10 years? Am I still a Game Designer?
What if I only publish 1 good game? Again am I still a Game Designer??
What if the game(s) I make never get sold? Does that mean I am a Game Designer???

It seems there is a "disconnect" between "Game Designer" and "SUCCESSFUL Game Designer" or "CAREER Game Designer".

I personally consider myself a "Hobbyist"/"Independent" Game Designer. Independent because I have yet to sign any deals with a publisher. Hobbyist because it's not a full-time job, it is something I pursue at my leisure.

Perhaps this sort of "classification" can lead to more CLEAR distinction among the "Game Designer" community.

Q:"How do you DEFINE your contributions/efforts into Board Game Design?"

That type of categorization might make for classes of "Game Designers" without needing a upvote/downvote system. Take the "Hobbyists"/casual Game Designers from the "Career"/serious Game Designers.

Just some thoughts... IMHO.

djayshaggy
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Let me approach this from a

Let me approach this from a slightly different perspective.

Am I a musician because I play a musical instrument? Yes, even if I'm not amazing and don't usually play in front of other people.
Am I a song writer because I write my own songs? Yes, even if they aren't very good. That would just make me a not-very-good song writer.
Am I a video game designer because I worked on designing something that was playable that you could actually call a video game? Well, technically I would say I WAS a video game designer because I don't do that anymore.
Am I a programmer because I write code? Yes.
Would I be a programmer if I learned a language and did a tutorial but never wrote my own program? No, not yet, but once I started writing my own program, then, yes, as long as that's how I see myself.
Am I a writer because I've written down some great story ideas and a few outlines? No, not if I've never moved beyond that initial inspirational spark into the meat of writing.
Am I a game designer because I've written down a few great ideas and laid out a couple of rules that popped in my head? Am I designer because I've taken some games off my shelf and mixed up the components one day to try and see what would happen? No, probably not.
I consider myself an Aspiring Game Designer (which is still, technically, a Game Designer) because I've moved beyond the layouts and random lists of ideas that may never be anything more. I've moved beyond the inspirational spark that makes me think I'm going to spend a month on this and have the next Pandemic. I've slogged my way through some boring stuff and heard a hundred "that's a bad ideas" and "that sucks" and "that just doesn't work".
I think there are levels.
There are pros who aren't actually very good at it, but they know what it takes. And there are beginners who may build multiple games loved by thousands of players, but they are still grinding through their first rounds of boring playtests.
I think it comes down to 2 things:
1. Do you consider yourself a Game Designer?
2. Have you put in the work to make something more playable, even when you REALLY didn't want to?

Tedthebug
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Is there a fear of 'App Store-itis'?

Has the relative ease of designing games & getting them in front of people, due to the Internet & print on demand manufacturers, made the tabletop market similar to the App Store games?

I'm learning digital game design & many people in those forums are lamenting how hard it is for good games to be noticed now that anyone with a PC can download unity, ue4, gamemaker etc for free & publish stuff to steam & app stores (it's surprising the number of 'games' put up on free websites like itch, kongregate, gamejolt etc that are just the things that people make when doing the tutorials - complete with the free art & sound assets that the engines gave the users to do the tutorial). There are also discussions there about what makes a game developer/designer.

Sean

questccg
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djayshaggy wrote:Am I a

djayshaggy wrote:
Am I a musician because I play a musical instrument? Yes, even if I'm not amazing and don't usually play in front of other people.

I disagree. You are NOT a musician just because you play an instrument. I PLAYED a musical instrument through high-school and stopped playing in college. I don't consider myself a musician, nor did I ever. I just played an instrument (for a part of my life).

To me, a Musician is somebody that:

A> Plays an instrument on a regular on-going basis
B> Plays an instrument to earn a living

I "dabbled" in some music at one stage of my life. And I even won 2nd prize at a competition in Ottawa.

djayshaggy wrote:
Am I a song writer because I write my own songs? Yes, even if they aren't very good. That would just make me a not-very-good song writer.

Again just because you put together some lyrics on paper - does not make you a song writer. It just means you wrote a song. Ke$ha is a song writer. Even many popular SINGERS don't call themselves song writers because other people write their songs. They just sing the songs...

djayshaggy wrote:
I think it comes down to 2 things:
1. Do you consider yourself a Game Designer?
2. Have you put in the work to make something more playable, even when you REALLY didn't want to?

Just because you do things other people do, does not make you one of them... Like a Writer/Musician/Song Writer/etc.

It depends on your level of involvement.

For example when I say I'm a "Hobbyist"/"Independent" Game Designer, I have been designing my latest game for three (3) years. It has seen more than 20 incarnation/forms through the various playtest cycles to rules refinement. I spend probably about 20 hours a week on game design, from keeping up to date with BGDF threads, to re-working my current game, to helping others with their own designs, and watching videos about other games.

I have three or four designs for game ideas - and have all of those on the back-burner.

I WISH I had found a publisher for "Tradewars - Homeworld" - but F- it! I wasted 1 1/2 years in discussions with publishers that did not come to fruition. I got tired of trying to convince people that the game is worthy of publication.

So I'm releasing my 2nd self-published game this summer.

BUT FOR ME, it's only a HOBBY. Of course I would be happy if one of my designs gained some popularity such that I could continue to invest in that game. I have many expansion ideas for my current game - and well we'll see what the market says about my game...

I, like any other "aspiring" Game Designer, hope to be successful in my efforts to make and sell a successful design. So I will agree with you on this point: I too am an "Aspiring Game Designer".

I'll probably consider myself a "Game Designer" once one of my designs is in some form SUCCESSFUL in the market and gains some kind of recognition as being a good game to play. I've received positive feedback from Reviewers - but I want to know what "Gamers" think...

That's my opinion...

radioactivemouse
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Well...

questccg wrote:
djayshaggy wrote:
Am I a musician because I play a musical instrument? Yes, even if I'm not amazing and don't usually play in front of other people.

I disagree. You are NOT a musician just because you play an instrument. I PLAYED a musical instrument through high-school and stopped playing in college. I don't consider myself a musician, nor did I ever. I just played an instrument (for a part of my life).

To me, a Musician is somebody that:

A> Plays an instrument on a regular on-going basis
B> Plays an instrument to earn a living

I "dabbled" in some music at one stage of my life. And I even won 2nd prize at a competition in Ottawa.

djayshaggy wrote:
Am I a song writer because I write my own songs? Yes, even if they aren't very good. That would just make me a not-very-good song writer.

Again just because you put together some lyrics on paper - does not make you a song writer. It just means you wrote a song. Ke$ha is a song writer. Even many popular SINGERS don't call themselves song writers because other people write their songs. They just sing the songs...

djayshaggy wrote:
I think it comes down to 2 things:
1. Do you consider yourself a Game Designer?
2. Have you put in the work to make something more playable, even when you REALLY didn't want to?

Just because you do things other people do, does not make you one of them... Like a Writer/Musician/Song Writer/etc.

It depends on your level of involvement.

For example when I say I'm a "Hobbyist"/"Independent" Game Designer, I have been designing my latest game for three (3) years. It has seen more than 20 incarnation/forms through the various playtest cycles to rules refinement. I spend probably about 20 hours a week on game design, from keeping up to date with BGDF threads, to re-working my current game, to helping others with their own designs, and watching videos about other games.

I have three or four designs for game ideas - and have all of those on the back-burner.

I WISH I had found a publisher for "Tradewars - Homeworld" - but F- it! I wasted 1 1/2 years in discussions with publishers that did not come to fruition. I got tired of trying to convince people that the game is worthy of publication.

So I'm releasing my 2nd self-published game this summer.

BUT FOR ME, it's only a HOBBY. Of course I would be happy if one of my designs gained some popularity such that I could continue to invest in that game. I have many expansion ideas for my current game - and well we'll see what the market says about my game...

I, like any other "aspiring" Game Designer, hope to be successful in my efforts to make and sell a successful design. So I will agree with you on this point: I too am an "Aspiring Game Designer".

I'll probably consider myself a "Game Designer" once one of my designs is in some form SUCCESSFUL in the market and gains some kind of recognition as being a good game to play. I've received positive feedback from Reviewers - but I want to know what "Gamers" think...

That's my opinion...

You may be a hobbyist, but I respect the F- out of you and I love your contributions. Just saying.

djayshaggy
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questccg wrote:djayshaggy

questccg wrote:
djayshaggy wrote:
Am I a musician because I play a musical instrument? Yes, even if I'm not amazing and don't usually play in front of other people.

I disagree. You are NOT a musician just because you play an instrument. I PLAYED a musical instrument through high-school and stopped playing in college. I don't consider myself a musician, nor did I ever. I just played an instrument (for a part of my life).

To me, a Musician is somebody that:

A> Plays an instrument on a regular on-going basis
B> Plays an instrument to earn a living

I "dabbled" in some music at one stage of my life. And I even won 2nd prize at a competition in Ottawa.

djayshaggy wrote:
Am I a song writer because I write my own songs? Yes, even if they aren't very good. That would just make me a not-very-good song writer.

Again just because you put together some lyrics on paper - does not make you a song writer. It just means you wrote a song. Ke$ha is a song writer. Even many popular SINGERS don't call themselves song writers because other people write their songs. They just sing the songs...

djayshaggy wrote:
I think it comes down to 2 things:
1. Do you consider yourself a Game Designer?
2. Have you put in the work to make something more playable, even when you REALLY didn't want to?

Just because you do things other people do, does not make you one of them... Like a Writer/Musician/Song Writer/etc.

It depends on your level of involvement.

For example when I say I'm a "Hobbyist"/"Independent" Game Designer, I have been designing my latest game for three (3) years. It has seen more than 20 incarnation/forms through the various playtest cycles to rules refinement. I spend probably about 20 hours a week on game design, from keeping up to date with BGDF threads, to re-working my current game, to helping others with their own designs, and watching videos about other games.

I have three or four designs for game ideas - and have all of those on the back-burner.

I WISH I had found a publisher for "Tradewars - Homeworld" - but F- it! I wasted 1 1/2 years in discussions with publishers that did not come to fruition. I got tired of trying to convince people that the game is worthy of publication.

So I'm releasing my 2nd self-published game this summer.

BUT FOR ME, it's only a HOBBY. Of course I would be happy if one of my designs gained some popularity such that I could continue to invest in that game. I have many expansion ideas for my current game - and well we'll see what the market says about my game...

I, like any other "aspiring" Game Designer, hope to be successful in my efforts to make and sell a successful design. So I will agree with you on this point: I too am an "Aspiring Game Designer".

I'll probably consider myself a "Game Designer" once one of my designs is in some form SUCCESSFUL in the market and gains some kind of recognition as being a good game to play. I've received positive feedback from Reviewers - but I want to know what "Gamers" think...

That's my opinion...


I understand where you're coming from, but to say someone has to get paid to be able to claim a title is just wrong. Otherwise, how would you have "starving artists". There are amateurs and professionals. Independent artists don't always get paid. Just because I don't ask for money doesn't mean I don't deserve the title. If I'm committed and remain committed then for that time I've earned that title. You may not consider yourself a game designer, but with your commitment level, I'm sure many people would. I have a lot of respect for your commitment, even if it's just a hobby. To me, that makes you a hobbyist game designer, which is just one more level of game designer. That's why the word professional exists, because you don't need to be professional to just be.

questccg
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It's because I am old

I give much respect to professionals because I have worked with several of them ... during my projects. I hired a Creative Writer to write storylines for my project. She did a wonderful and professional job.

I just wanted to make sure you understood that for some people they have invested years of schooling to earn the titles that their duties require of them.

Just like you being a Software Developer required schooling, many musicians attend prestigious schools such as The Juilliard School. They graduate and earn their title. By both their talent and effort. To say that you are a musician seems like a misappropriation just because you may have played a musical instrument.

However your distinction of Amateur vs. Professional could be another interpretation of "Hobbyist" and "Career" Game Designer.

And as for "Starving" Artists, those that I know - and I know a couple, they are very well off. Their parent's multi-millionaires giving them the freedom to pursue their creativity. And the Artists that have some form of reputation or credibility - are by no means "Starving" either. They are professionals like any other and are recognized as being very talented.

I have worked with a couple of such individuals also.

And feel very blessed to have had the opportunity.

I didn't want to "call you out" or seem "harsh". Just to illicit some form of understanding that when you call yourself a "Musician" it means something. You give people a "false" idea about your background.

Obviously if people question you enough and ask questions like "So you play in a band?" Or "Do you actively submit songs through an agent?" Or "Have any of your Novels been published?"

Do you understand what I am saying? If you answer No to any of these, you are neither a Musician, Song Writer or Writer... You're just "dabbling" (which is the best term I can find).

And "dabbling" doesn't mean you have the background or experience required by any of these.

It's more than an issue about money. If I said: "You're a Hacker." Instead of calling you a "Software Developer", wouldn't you be insulted? You'd tell me to F- off and say that you have studied Computer Science during 3 to 5 years of College earning an Undergraduate degree...

That's why "radioactivemouse" thinks this whole "Game Designer" designation is being trampled by all kinds of people who are NOT professionals... and questionably real "Game Designers"...

The subject of the OP.

Note: I also see that many, if not MOST, people on this Forum are *temporary*. Not all - but MOST. We often get the person who out-of-the-blue appears and says they are a "First Time Designer" and here is a link to their Kickstarter campaign. And then they just "disappear"... Poof!

As with anything, you need to be "involved" and "engage" people. You need to spend time and share. And most importantly you need "longevity". So don't let my post tear you away from becoming the "Musician" you've always dreamed of being... Wait a sec - You want to be a "Game Designer" instead? Same difference! :)

Arcuate
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I think we should be wary of

I think we should be wary of expecting single words or short labels to carry unique, distinct and complex meanings, divorced from context. That's usually only necessary in a contract or a court of law. If we really need to distinguish between a professional, serious hobbyist, and half-hearted dabbler, we can.

Personally, I would not want to see a thumbs-up system. The only merit I can see in such a system is that it allows some degree of filtering of posts. That can be useful in forums like Reddit or Stack Overflow, where there are thousands of posts and some of them may be more worthwhile than others. The number of posts here is not so excessive that we need to add filtering. I am happy to click on all of the posts.

On a side note, can posters try to keep an eye on the quoted-content-vs-new-content ratio in their posts?

radioactivemouse
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It doesn't have to be court official.

Arcuate wrote:
I think we should be wary of expecting single words or short labels to carry unique, distinct and complex meanings, divorced from context. That's usually only necessary in a contract or a court of law. If we really need to distinguish between a professional, serious hobbyist, and half-hearted dabbler, we can.

Personally, I would not want to see a thumbs-up system. The only merit I can see in such a system is that it allows some degree of filtering of posts. That can be useful in forums like Reddit or Stack Overflow, where there are thousands of posts and some of them may be more worthwhile than others. The number of posts here is not so excessive that we need to add filtering. I am happy to click on all of the posts.

On a side note, can posters try to keep an eye on the quoted-content-vs-new-content ratio in their posts?

Yeah, but we need to distinguish who's really trying to get in this industry because they believe it's a easy "in" as opposed to the people that understand how complex game design is and want to preserve its art.

Everyone knows it. People come in here thinking they are a game designer because they love games and they've played games their whole lives. They believe it's an easy in...they think they are smart enough to break into this industry and become a Cinderella story because they have a child to motivate them and they have a great idea. I'll tell you this: I've lived in a house, driven cars, worked on computers for decades, but far be it from me to ask if I could build any of those. I learned more being mentored by a legitimate game designer in 2 years than I did playing games for decades.

It's like Graphic Design. Once Photoshop became available to everyone, everyone suddenly became instant Graphic Designers. Most of those people don't understand color theory, basic design, placement, etc. There's an art to it. They think that just because they can draw a pretty picture means they can do something as simple as a logo. But that's the trick. The Graphic Designer's job is to MAKE it look easy, but in fact has many layers of complexity. So the self proclaimed Graphic Designers of the world have diluted what real Graphic Designers do.

Even if it's something as simple as "hobbyist", "unprofessional/professional", or "veteran" is fine. It doesn't take a like/dislike system, it doesn't take a vote system, I just want some consistency.

ElKobold
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radioactivemouse wrote: Yeah,

radioactivemouse wrote:

Yeah, but we need to distinguish who's really trying to get in this industry because they believe it's a easy "in" as opposed to the people that understand how complex game design is and want to preserve its art.

Why bother? The best way to combat the "easy in" attitude is facing the harsh reality.

radioactivemouse wrote:

they think they are smart enough to break into this industry and become a Cinderella story because they have a child to motivate them and they have a great idea.

And yet some do. However few.

radioactivemouse wrote:

Even if it's something as simple as "hobbyist", "unprofessional/professional", or "veteran" is fine. It doesn't take a like/dislike system, it doesn't take a vote system, I just want some consistency.

So how would you rate yourself in that labeling system? ;)

Arcuate
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I understand...

I understand that there is a problem with people thinking there is an easy in. What I'm not sure about is the idea that there is any fix other than quietly pointing out the harsh reality to each newcomer.

In the short time I have subscribed to this forum, I have already seen a couple of drop-ins from people who do not appear to have done a single playtest with strangers, much less conducted a blind playtest or patiently worked through the long iterative process needed to get a game to the halfway decent stage.

For what it's worth, I agree that the term "game designer" is overused. I wouldn't call myself a game designer, unless it was in a very clear context such as a playtest meet-up, in answer to the question: are you here as a player or a designer? If asked to qualify my own situation, I would say I am currently enjoying game design as a hobby, and I am somewhere between serious hobbyist and dabbler. But I don't think it is worth getting too fussed if others want to slap the "designer" label on themselves.

It's not all that different from some fiction-critiquing groups I once belonged to, where every new member thought they had the next great novel and often had a typo-ridden bunch of borrowed ideas and cliches. Are they writers? Well, they are writers of a sort. We can't stop them using the term "writer", and I don't think we should worry about it. A legalistic definition of "writer" wouldn't solve the problem of unrealistic expectations. Their work defines them, not the label. In among the dross, I sometimes read unpublished work that was leagues ahead of the last published book I read. And I expect the same among game designers.

gilamonster
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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Assuming such a rating system is imposed, who is going to choose the criteria so that they are seen as fair to everyone? Even in this thread, I can't see any obvious correlation between experience and opinions on this. Who is going to vet the ratings? How are transitions to a higher level going to be handled? And would anyone here actually rather worry and argue about all that stuff than actually discussing boardgame design here?

Personally, I make no secret of the fact that this is a hobby for me, and I've never published a game. Indeed, I often draw attention to it when posting advice or opinions, so as not to deceive or mislead anyone. I have seen many others doing likewise here. If people are honest in this way, where's the problem?

I think it will quickly become pretty obvious to everyone if someone is totally inexperienced and thinks game design is a free ride to fame and fortune. Such people can be irritating in any field, but imposing a rating system won't eliminate them. As Elkobold and others have said, they'll soon learn that this is wrong the hard way.

In the penultimate year of my PhD I had the sobering experience of having a subtle but important error in an experimental setup pointed out to me by a bright undergrad student. I had been doing experimental work for twice as long as he'd been studying, including some work on international research projects and consulting for industry, but he was right, and I was grateful (once I got over the blow to my ego - I'm only human). It just doesn't pay to assume infallibility based on experience, or insignificance based on the lack thereof.

Just my opinion
Andrew

let-off studios
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Arcuate wrote:Their work

Arcuate wrote:
Their work defines them, not the label.
This, this, a thousand times this!

I wouldn't be spending time with BGDF if I wasn't a BGD.

gilamonster wrote:
I had been doing experimental work for twice as long as he'd been studying, including some work on international research projects and consulting for industry, but he was right, and I was grateful [...] It just doesn't pay to assume infallibility based on experience, or insignificance based on the lack thereof.
I agree. I think it is the individual's responsibility to take input from each forum member's post, for good or ill. To see some kind of rating system on top of it absolves us all of personal responsibility and reduces dependence on critical thought: both traits I find indispensable in game design and most other aspects of life.

questccg
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Mostly "students"

ElKobold wrote:
radioactivemouse wrote:

Yeah, but we need to distinguish who's really trying to get in this industry because they believe it's a easy "in" as opposed to the people that understand how complex game design is and want to preserve its art.

Why bother? The best way to combat the "easy in" attitude is facing the harsh reality.

Because that's after they "flood" the market with garbage. Just like all the Apps your iPhone/AndPhone can have. To be honest, I find the volume to be very overwhelming (in the App business). Luckily the Tabletop industry doesn't have the same volume (Thank you God). But 200+ projects in Tabletop on KS is not insignificant.

And it's something to say: "I'm a First Time Game Designer."

When it should be: "I have designed my very first game."

They are not "Game Designers"... They took some ideas and made a game. Is it any good? Will people want to buy it?

Putting together some ideas is just the tip of the iceburg.

It seems like everyone who comes to this Forum considers themselves "Game Designers". "radioactivemouse" has a point - to make a clarification. Before you are a master - first you must be a student.

So all these "First Time Game Designer" should be labelled "Students of Game Design". How they evolve from there - varies for each individual. Some may have a Cinderella Story and luck out, most will vanish within a months time.

BGDF is a good forum for sharing/contributing/learning more about "Game Design". There aren't many Masters around, nor do we expect them to teach us everything they keep hidden. Masters usually work for big companies and don't get in touch with such community as ours.

And so the best way to learn is from each other, the topics and messages. Some people have ran several successful KS campaigns, others have experience being published, etc.

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well...

ElKobold wrote:

Why bother? The best way to combat the "easy in" attitude is facing the harsh reality.

You do realize this goes against what this forum is about...I admit I'm pretty blunt, but I'm always about helping people.

ElKobold wrote:

And yet some do. However few.

Yes, they're called outliers. Most do not. You've seen them...remember Mr "I have the perfectly balanced RPG that I'm selling for $1,000"

ElKobold wrote:

So how would you rate yourself in that labeling system? ;)

You've been on this forum how long and you don't know where I lie in this? Professional, but far from veteran, imo. You know what I do and you know I have produced a game and I've received money for it. What about you?

questccg
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Masters vs. Students

"Justin Gary" was a very brief member of our community. If I track his contribs, he posted two threads and then poof!

http://www.bgdf.com/users/justin-gary/track

He was as close to a Master this website had seen... But he didn't stick around very long ... which is unfortunate.

His first thread/post was "Ask Me Anything!" And it seemed like a good start. Too bad he decided not to continue to contribute his wisdom, knowledge and experience to help grow our BGDF community...

My observations: people on Forums are very TRANSIENT.

ElKobold
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radioactivemouse wrote:You

radioactivemouse wrote:

You do realize this goes against what this forum is about...I admit I'm pretty blunt, but I'm always about helping people.

To give the advise is a good thing, sure.
It doesn't guarantee that it will be followed though.
One tends to appreciate the advice given after getting there yourself.
Then again, it's just my personal perception of how people usually react to such advises. Maybe I`m wrong.

radioactivemouse wrote:

Yes, they're called outliers. Most do not. You've seen them...remember Mr "I have the perfectly balanced RPG that I'm selling for $1,000"

I really don't see a problem. So suppose someone thinks he has something great, while it's not. The probability of him accepting your feedback will hardly be based on your forum status.

radioactivemouse wrote:

You've been on this forum how long and you don't know where I lie in this?

If I were to give a definition, (professional) game designer is someone who is earning his living from game design. I.e. when it's your full-time job.

So, based on this definition, I`m a non-professional game designer. I am earning from my game-design hobby. But it's not what I`m paying my bills with.

Sorry, if I`m being blunt, but the way I see it, you are simply annoyed that you aren't getting enough accolade for publishing your game :)

Unless I`m mistaken, neither one of the active posters of this forum is Eric Lang or Kevin Wilson or whatnot.

So I don't think that anyone's opinion should be artificially elevated about other opinions. We're all newbies here. Yes, even those of us who did publish a game ;)

radioactivemouse
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Uhm wrong.

ElKobold wrote:

Sorry, if I`m being blunt, but the way I see it, you are simply annoyed that you aren't getting enough accolade for publishing your game :)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's completely false. I made my game to teach my classes, and to prove I could just do it. Do I wish my game could do better? Of course everyone does, but that was just a low blow and to be honest a pretty f-ed up comment.

Regardless of what you think, this is a question worth asking.

ElKobold
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Yet you imply that your

Yet you imply that your advises are worth more than any other forum member based on the fact that you've published a game.

Hence the original post.

I might be wrong, but this is how it appears from the outside.

P.S: also, chill, no-one is trading blows, there was a smiley for a reason

X3M
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Henceforth the sense of

Henceforth the sense of frustration...which is understandable, yet not very placable in my humble opinion.

Might I ask?
How come this question came up in the first place? Before you started the topic.

PS
After reading through all the comments. No one shouted to be a real, money making, professional, designer. (Except for one mentioned guy that earned 1000 on a perfect rpg)

questccg
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Different perspective

ElKobold wrote:
Yet you imply that your advises are worth more than any other forum member based on the fact that you've published a game.

Hence the original post.

I think it's because he has a different perspective than most designers on this forum. Ok maybe David (Dralius) has had 3 or 4 (maybe more) game published by Mayfair Games and he has had deals going with other "publishers" also.

The majority of the rest of us are "self-published". Which I would strongly advise against. I know... I'm doing it again (self-publishing). There are several reasons, one being that I want to pump out expansions and new edition (new Races). I also already have an artist... (I digress)

radioactivemouse
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You don't get it.

ElKobold wrote:
Yet you imply that your advises are worth more than any other forum member based on the fact that you've published a game.

Hence the original post.

I might be wrong, but this is how it appears from the outside.

P.S: also, chill, no-one is trading blows, there was a smiley for a reason

Is it wrong having confidence born from my experience? Even after all my "advice", I always say it's their choice; I'm not forcing anyone to do anything. Many people here have no one to turn to because they have no one in their life to get the advice they need. I have friends that are game designers, mentors I can call (or even go to their house), and a publishing company I can go to at any time. Is this bad to have as resources? I'm a professor of game design at a college and I've been doing this for over 6 years. So yes, I pay my bills and make a living talking about game design.

To tell the truth, my game started from a lecture. I actually waited (for years) for someone else to do a game like I talked about (lottery-based combat system), but since no one did it, I just did it. Part of it was to prove I could do it, part of it was to encourage my students they can do it too.

So no, I don't imply that I know more based on the fact I published a game. I give my advice based on the fact I have a lot of experience working in the business. Period.

Did I mention I started in the game industry in 2003? Don't you think that in 13 years I've have a little confidence in myself about the game industry?

Am I upset my game doesn't have more accolades? Actually no. My game did far better than I imagined. I wasn't expecting a Cinderella story (as many here would like to believe). I'm very aware of the flaws in my game and I know it's a cutthroat industry. If I broke out big into an industry where thousands of games get released every year, I'd be flattered, but I'd be kidding myself. I'm in it for the long haul.

If you feel like I come off big-headed and a little over-confident, I'm sorry you feel that way. It's not my intention and I know I can come off a harsh because I talk to my students that way.

We are done with this part of the conversation. I'm here to talk about what people think about game designers.

let-off studios
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Epilogue

...Back to my hobby, I guess.

questccg
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Nobody made $1000.00 for an RPG

X3M wrote:
...After reading through all the comments. No one shouted to be a real, money making, professional, designer. (Except for one mentioned guy that earned 1000 on a perfect rpg)

@X3M: No you were mistaken. The one guy that WANTED $1000.00 for a copy of his "perfectly balanced" (Bullsh!t) RPG, nobody bought it. He's the "headbanger" that get's more than one girl...

Seriously $1000.00 for that. Everyone told him he was "crazy". He just laughed it off...

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/moonlounge

Joseph Oberlander was his name...

And what I understood from David (Dralius) some of his publishing deals were not the most lucrative either.

But he did publish a real cool "Star Trek" game with "Mayfair Games". I mean they paid for whatever costs needed to be able to use the "Star Trek" brand, name and licensing...

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