Game Design, game design, ethics, wait what?

The last month at least I have been working on my video game design and whilst concepts are still being refined and paper prototypes are covering my desk slowly but surely with new mechanics and items, it has come time for filling in and submitting ethic forms.

Ethic forms are becoming paramount and dare I saw requiring more written word then what perhaps my exegesis may end up being, but to be honest the process as cumbersome has actually pointed out some very interesting things about my game’s design.

While I will be more than likely using a questionnaire or survey to obtain responses from students who (hopefully) will be playing my video game when it is finished, it has outlined and placed even more emphasis on what exactly they need to learn and how.

Having to provide questionnaires along side my ethics application, I am having to write out questions for a game that I have not even finished designing. In fairness an Honours degree is only a year, and forms will have be lodged in parallel to the design process in order to be approved on time for testing it has brought forth a revelation or sorts, in comparison to that of a video game designed for a PhD degree of which you have more time. But this process has actually proven to resulted in each and every design decision being scrutinised even more.

Well, you have a research question why are you not just revisiting that?

Research questions, like game design, go through numerous alterations and changes as you research, however having to provide a questionnaire so early on actually places you in a situation of where you must have absolute clarity on what you are doing. Whilst creative freedom is something those involved in the arts appreciate, it’s also extremely limiting if there is such a broad focus.

Having to have such clarity on my project so early on is something I think should become part of the general process, ethics or not. To constantly ask yourself questions about what the player learns, why they learn it, and contrasting it to what you want them to learn and how do you want them to learn it really aids in clarity. When designing games you need to constantly go over and over your designs, turn them around, approach them from another angle, sleep on it and come back the next day at which point they seem completely different and sometimes you end up starting from square one again. If anything that is what I have learnt from the last 3 years at least.

The process of ethics has outlined how important clarity of your design really is and to constantly question what you are doing and it’s significance.

As a game designer, if you don’t care about what you are doing, chances are, that is going to translate back to the player and they won’t either.

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