June 2015

Game Designers: Impressive First Impressions

Author(s): 

Setup

I was listening to a recent podcast… Gino of the Talking Tinkerbots podcast mentioned his frustration with the caveat, or even caution, applied by reviewers about games or Kickstarter projects by first-time designers. The discussion caused me to think about some of the successes and failures of first-timers and to do a little research that might prove interesting. I understand the concern related to “unproven” designers or publishers, but appreciate the perspective that I think Gino was applying.

Not that this article is intended to be a logical argument, but in logical argumentation the problem Gino has pointed out is known as a Genetic Fallacy. Something is bad/good because of its origin.

It would be too easy to focus on the negative here: First-timer Kickstarters that funded but ultimately failed and games that didn’t meet gamer expectations, etc. or to defend first-timers by focusing on “known” designers and publishers failing on the same criteria. The fact is, examples of both are plentiful – I regretfully have some of each (first-timers and known designer/publishers) in my game collection as evidence.

Instead, I want to:

  1. Take a positive approach to first-timers and provide a few examples of “Impressive First Impressions.”
  2. Provide a few examples of the games by established designers that were their first or early designs.

So each player starts with a 3 x 3 grid of cards…

Author(s): 

Listening to a recent podcast, I heard that a certain game design contest had received quite a few entries for which “a 3 x 3 grid of cards” was a main feature. Those discussing this event sounded derisive to those designers who presented these designs. Now, maybe that was just my impression, but that impression was the seed for this blog post. So let’s take a look at “a 3 x 3 grid of cards” as a game feature. Note: I was not one of those designers entering the contest, so this is not a case of sour grapes; just an observation.