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What makes someone a game designer and not a wannabe?

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Jay103's picture
Joined: 01/23/2018
I'm late, sorry. "lewpuls"

I'm late, sorry.

"lewpuls" wrote:
Do we suppose anyone who calls themselves a sculptor is a sculptor

"lewpuls" wrote:
anyone who calls themselves a physician is a physician

No, that's a licensed profession in most countries.
"lewpuls" wrote:
anyone who calls themselves a football player is a football player


"lewpuls" wrote:
Not only no, but Hell No. Get in touch with reality.


I wouldn't call myself a PROFESSIONAL football player, but anyone who plays football is a football player. It's LANGUAGE.

And of COURSE this is gate-keeping. There's a term, and you want to define it such that some are in and some are out. Your "football player" stuff only emphasizes that.

The only question I have, going back to the original post, is why you feel there has to be a line drawn at all? Who benefits from such a thing?

If I recommend drawing that line so that you, personally, are considered "not a game designer", would you be okay with that? Because I assume you want the line drawn so that the "wannabes" and "yahoos" are on the other side from yourself.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Just try to be honest...

Jay103 wrote:
...The only question I have, going back to the original post, is why you feel there has to be a line drawn at all? Who benefits from such a thing?

I think this is because 10,000+ Game Designers on Linked-In is too HIGH for Dr. Lew tastes... I also got into this discussion once before and ... people did NOT like the "Gate Keeping" either. But I understand where they are coming from (the other members): it should remain an open "designation".

When I designed "Quest Adventure Cards(tm)" (Quest AC) was I a "Game Designer"??? Heck, no. It was my first game, I didn't know 1% of the mechanics available to be used, I didn't know anything about "The Game Crafter" or "Print-And-Play Games", neither had I heard of Kickstarter (or knew how it operated...)

While "Quest AC" was a game... I was still a NOOB. As Dr. Lew puts it a "Wannabe". But I joined this community way back in 2011 (almost a decade ago)... I started to LEARN more about ALL the other games out there. I learned about The Dice Tower and watched a ton of Game Videos to learn about different games. I found out there was a Board Game Geek website which had a collection of MOST of the games ever made public.

Where am I going with ALL THIS?!?!

As a NOOB and knowing what I know TODAY, I can firmly say that "back in the day" I was no "Game Designer". I designed a GAME. But had very limited knowledge about "Game Design"... I still today have things to learn or experience (even if I know the Theory behind some of those aspects in the industry). I need some more "practical" experience.

People like @Jay103 (Jason) have had 4 Kickstarters and I'm still TRYING to get my 1st one DONE (Manufacturing and Fulfillment). So I feel like I am "lagging behind" even with a queue of good games. But that's my burden we didn't want things to NOT work-out (with the passing of Mike).

We'll see what the future holds... But in some way I agree that "Game Design" the DESIGNATION should be used "responsibly". It's not that everyone who designs a game is a game designer (as explained in my past history and how I feel about it).

That's not to say that we here at don't promote INCLUSION. Quite the contrary, if you are NEW and a NOOB say so, ask questions, read and search our archives, look for topics about your questions, etc.

I too just feel like TOO MANY people call themselves "Game Designers" and know very little about the craft and the industry.

Cheers folks and don't bite anyone's head off... It's a TOPIC like any other... Different people will have different opinions. It's okay to agree to disagree. This topic can and might be very polarizing. Just stick to "your take", how you feel about it and that will at least be an HONEST opinion...

Note #1: In case anyone is wondering, "How did I design Quest AC with little to no knowledge about Game Design???" The answer is simply, I've played card games like Gin and Rummy, Hearts and had some knowledge of CCGs like Magic and Pokemon. So MY first game had two (2) mechanics: Set Collection and Take-That. It was a SIMPLE game designed for KIDS 9+ to play.

It's not the GREATEST game in the world, Purple Pawn gave me a 3 out of 10... But I think he was a bit HARSH because he didn't take the game in the right context: it was a game for KIDS (not adults).

The art was original and cartoon-esque too... I really like the artwork done for the game... I hope to work with Geof again on a 2nd Edition of the game.

I had also been exposed to games during my years in High School... Which was over 30 years ago... But playing doesn't make you a DESIGNER. It may spark your imagination and lead you to seek out resources in designing like

So in my background a STRONG gaming background with some designs when I was young ... Mostly IDEAS nothing completed. But an interest in Board and Card game in general too.

Joined: 02/11/2015
The Dunning-Krugger Effect

questccg wrote:

As a NOOB and knowing what I know TODAY, I can firmly say that "back in the day" I was no "Game Designer". I designed a GAME. But had very limited knowledge about "Game Design"... I still today have things to learn or experience (even if I know the Theory behind some of those aspects in the industry). I need some more "practical" experience.

What you are describing @Quest, and ultimately what I think this debate is about is where on the Dunning-Krugger Effect line should someone call themselves a game designer. (If I knew how to insert an image I'd include the graph.) There are a LOT of people on the left peak who claim it and I think that is what bothers people who are further toward the right of the curve. But as I stated, this is going to happen in every field were the end product is subjective.

I admire those who show restraint in adopting titles. It shows maturity and integrity. Though some of that maturity is lost when one tries to "gatekeep". There are other, more respectable ways to disagree.

Me for instance, I would probably not fall under the Game Designer title by @Quest's or @Lewpul's standard. I honestly don't know where that threshold lies to say if I agree or not. I will say though, I truly felt like a game designer when someone asked (unprompted) to play my game when they saw someone else playing it. That is a great feeling and I think we should be encouraging others to get to that point rather than quibbling over the title itself. In other words, I think we should be glad to have someone take on the title, but challenge them to live up to it.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I'm not a "Gate Keeper"... but let me explain WHY?!

AdamRobinGames-ARG wrote:
...Me for instance, I would probably not fall under the Game Designer title by @Quest's or @Lewpul's standard...

I don't know where you get the "I would probably NOT fall under the title." from my perspective. If you're on this FORUM ... You are ALREADY a BETTER "Game Designer" than I was as a NOOB, because I knew very little about "Game Design". I'm not a "Gate Keeper" ... Actually on the opposite side and ENCOURAGE people to PARTICIPATE in our forum... To ASK questions, HELP others with their own questions...!

If you are on ... from what I have seen. Our members ARE "Game Designers". Most are actively pursuing some kind of link to "Game Design".

When I talked about MY OWN history... When I started I knew VERY LITTLE. And it is my impression that YOU know much more than I did when I made my first (1st) game.

So no, I am NOT a "Gate Keeper". I am an advocate for this forum and encouraging people to MINDSHARE their concepts... Because believe it or not... If two (2) people were given the EXACT same concepts/ideas... You'd be surprised on how BOTH results would be VERY DIFFERENT! So don't be afraid to share your ideas.

That's another aspect of "Game Design": people (noobs) are worried about their designs being STOLEN. Like I already explained, two sources = two DIFFERENT results. The paranoia some people have with their "ideas". Make a GAME and you'll understand the challenges and obstacle we ALL need to overcome.

But in all fairness to Dr. Lew, I was expressing his desire in the thread about how "we've been down this rabbit hole" and there is no point to debate the issue. The designation is by far and by many that "Game Designer" is an OPEN term. You do it, you earn it.

Joined: 02/11/2015
Sorry quest, I wasn't implying you were trying to gatekeep

If I gave you that impression, that was not my intent. I was trying to speak in general terms about how I felt about it. In hindsight, that post was poorly structured. While yes I have fairly recently started contributing and knowing a fair amount of what I still have to learn, I would still call myself a noob at this. As I stated, I haven't progressed past play testing prototypes. I am grateful that you would consider me among those who should hold the title, Thank You!

And ultimately, I agree there is no point to this debate.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
To put it simply

It would ANGER Group A and PLEASE Group B. Or it would PLEASE Group A and ANGER Group B. It's a very polarizing issue... I can see both sides and the argument for or against: Group A says there are too many Game Designer, Group B says the more the merrier. That irks Group A and pleases Group B. Adding some kind of conditions please Group A and irks Group B.

You can't win. No point pick a side and move on...

evansmind244's picture
Joined: 04/09/2015
Game Designer

If someone came into your house and saw a prototype of a board game sitting on your table and asked, "what is that on your table, did you design that"? What would you say to that person?

If you were at a Game Convention with your finished (yet unpublished and unsold) board game on a table and a passerby stopped and began to ask you questions. "What kind of game is this? How long does it take to play? How many players can play? Who designed it"? How do you answer the question of who the designer is?

If you have never been to college, or designed anything in your life but one day an idea for a board game comes into your mind and you just feel compelled to design it. In the process you find out that you really have a passion for making this game idea work. So you go to work reading, writing rules, researching, play-testing, surfing blogs, talking to other game designers, commission an artist. Over several years you finally finish your board game, and have a few copies printed out on The Game Crafter. Only some close family and a local play-testing group played the prototype, but no one has ever played the Beautiful finished copy you just got in the mail from The Game Crafter. That day your child's friend happened to be at your house and you open the box. The kid says "Wow, what is that"? What would you tell the kid?

A board game designer is anyone who's designed a board game. If you tell me you are a board game designer and I found out that you haven't even made a prototype I may think you are disingenuous. If I find out that you are the guy who created Magic the Gathering I may think 'wow you must be rich'. Either way Board Game designer is a descriptive word to help you explain that you've designed a game of some kind. I doubt that most people don't go around calling themselves a game designer unless they are in a conversation where that is pertinent.
My guess is that if you are a professor of Board Game Design you probably answer the question of "What do you do" like most professor's would. 'I'm a professor at such and such University. Now if you were a Professor and also the designer of Magic the Gathering and someone asked you the same question you may say "I'm a game designer". As for me, I've never said I was a game designer except for in conversations directly relating to the game I designed.
It would be very unfortunate if Van Gogh didn't get to call himself an artist, because everyone thought his art sucked until after he died.

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