I Are Game Design Blogger

Oh noes, Cuppycake got controversial, which roused the interwebs into angry rebuttal. Let the flame wars rage! Actually, what she says isn’t very controversial. “Do they (game design bloggers) know what they’re talking about? Are they even good designers?” To which I answer, *shrug*. Am I a good designer? Yes! Because you must take my word for it given that I’ve worked on a few games and 38 Studios rocks your socks off. Okay, less jokes and more content after the break.

Answer: Some know what they are talking about, and some are good designers. Those two parts aren’t necessarily related. Blogs are full of opinions, so take everything you read with a grain of salt. Don’t believe anything any designer says–no matter how good they are–wholesale. You have to analyze the person’s opinion and decide if you agree or disagree with it.

I like to read blogs, books, and anything I can get my hands on. In books, I can always find some nugget of useful information; whether it’s because something in the book was good or bad isn’t the point, because it’s still useful.

I can also find most game design blogs useful (whether the designer is paid or armchair) if I read it regularly. Some blogs have a higher noise-to-signal ratio than others, so they become less useful and I read them less frequently (my blog goes through low signal periods… and I blame you).

The point is, there is no way of knowing. Read what the person has to say and see if there is any value in it. Try to be objective about what you read and judge the content rather than the writer–I even disagree with the great Scott Jennings sometimes! Read a blog without consideration for who wrote it, and decide for yourself if it’s worth reading (hint: Nerfbat is worth reading).

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14 Responses to "I Are Game Design Blogger"

  1. I thought everything on the internet was true and should be taken as gospel. Now you’re telling me that it isn’t! I don’t know what to believe anymore. Contradictory information!

    On a serious note though you’re right. Every blogger is going to have a slant one way or another and a different set of experiences. I often find a situation where two people can be correct and completely differing on the answer. Different things work for different people.

    Every blogger has static or filler though. Lets face it, junk somehow ends up being better than nothing. I know I’ve lobbed some soft news stories up on Epic Slant before.

  2. JuJutsu

    “I know I’ve lobbed some soft news stories up on Epic Slant before.”
    :shock:

    Say it ain’t so!

  3. [...] has stirred up several responding blog posts already, as well as some discussion in [...]

  4. (X-posted from my blog)

    I guess it didn’t end up getting as controversial as I thought. I pretty much assumed people would assume I’m pointing fingers and start naming names. (Naming your own name doesn’t count!)

    I think more controversial could be how (I think) there are three distinct kind of bloggers:

    1) The academics who do their research on perpendicular topics and relate them to design.
    2) The game design bloggers who’ve never shipped a game or designed something fun, but like to talk about design anyway.
    3) Design bloggers who have some proof in their pudding, and consistently say good things with real world examples of their own work.

    I like paying attention to #1, because the psychology and academia of it all is intriguing. #2 I tend to roll my eyes at and move along, and #3 is the most rare and valuable.

  5. [...] a professional designer (outside of my head), but a couple people have and I must say I much prefer Shwayder’s response over Moorguard’s. Why? Shwayder seems to take the “everything is worth reading to pick [...]

  6. [...] OK. Just belittle a PvP game, that usually works for me.) It’s already created a fiesta of trackbacks, and instead of saying yet another “yeah, what they said”, I’ll chip in with my [...]

  7. Vahlouran

    Please…your best ideas have come from sitting around with other people that think like you and nothing like you.

  8. Vahlouran is just trying to take credit for all of my good ideas. Okay, he deserves credit, or at least shared credit, for some of them.

  9. [...] we allow a community manager write about game design. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn our lesson the first time around. (*grin*) But, this shows some of the benefit of reading game design blogs, even as a non-game [...]

  10. I have to disagree with cuppycake’s take on the “2) The game design bloggers who’ve never shipped a game or designed something fun, but like to talk about design anyway” not providing any value. I personally don’t have a blog like this, nor am I a game developer but… I have been involved in many large projects worth millions of dollars from all aspects: the end user and the project manager role.

    There is one thing that will always sink your ship in terms of project deliverables and that is understanding the end users needs. Part of this is knowing what their assumptions are and how they come to those assumptions. In regards to the “armchair design blogger” these are typically people with a big passion for games. These types tend to have fairly diverse circles of friends who they interact with on a daily basis in the settings of these games and are constantly exposed to *on the fly* feedback about the specific game or games in general. If that person has the ability to filter that information into useful, tangible information that they put forward into blogs; it provides an avenue for real designers to get that much more insight into how the mind of the end user is reacting to their gaming experiences.

    The ability to have that feedback translated and filtered into intelligent articles provides a lot more value then a person would initially suspect.

    Of course this might not apply at all to game design (Not my realm of expertise by any stretch of the imagination) but in the rest of the real world, the more information you have on the needs and assumptions of your end users, the more successful your ability to deliver is going to be.

  11. Defect9

    my thoughts, if they can be considered relevant, is that anyone who blogs (game design or otherwise), does so either out of the love of sharing things they’ve learned, or to draw attention to themselves in a “Hey, look what I know!” sort of way. In some ways, it’s like a forum, only in a blog, the blogger gets to take center stage for every single post.

  12. Bryan

    I’d fall into cuppycake’s #2 category if I had a blog, but I sort of want one anyway. My motivation is neither sharing things I learn nor drawing attention to myself – it’s simply that thinking things through out loud with an audience (even if its a small, not terribly interested audience) is an effective way of working through difficult problems. This points to the main reason not to get a blog, of course, which is that I’m not sure I could get what I want out of it without spilling borderline confidential information every other post… no thanks.

    P.s. “Vahlouran is just trying to take credit for all of my good ideas. ” What good ideas?

    OH SNAP

  13. It’s okay, Bryan. I realize you can’t recognize good ideas.

  14. [...] a professional designer (outside of my head), but a couple people have and I must say I much prefer Shwayder’s response over Moorguard’s. Why? Shwayder seems to take the “everything is worth reading to pick [...]

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