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Gamasutra - Opinion: On Invisibility In Game Design

[In this in-depth opinion piece, 2K Marin designer Steve Gaynor considers the immersive implications of a video game developer's visible influence on a final product, and argues for greater "invisibility" in design.]
When one is moved by an artist's work, it's sometimes said that the piece 'speaks' to you. Unlike art, games let you speak back to them, and in return, they reply. If the act of playing a video game is akin to carrying on a conversation, then it is the designer of the game with whom the player is conversing, via the game's systems.
In a strange way then, the designer of a video game is himself present as an entity within the work: as the "computer" -- the sum of the mechanics with which the player interacts. The designer is in the value of the shop items you barter for, the speed and cunning your rival racers exhibit, the accuracy of your opponent's guns and the resiliency with which they shrug off your shots, the order of operations with which you must complete a puzzle. The designer determines whether you win or lose, as well as how you play the game. In a sense, the designer resides within the inner workings of all the game's moving parts.
It's a wildly abstract and strangely mediated presence in the work: unlike a writer who puts his own views into words for the audience to read or hear, or the painter who visualizes an image, creates it and presents it to the world, a game designer's role is to express meaning and experiential tenor via potential: what the player may or may not do, as opposed to exactly what he will see, in what order, under which conditions.

via Gamasutra - Opinion: On Invisibility In Game Design.


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