Monkey Panic Game Design and Art
So we’ve been hard at work this week finalising the game design of Monkey Panic. In light of that I want to take this blog post and discuss game design for a moment.
Game design is about creating the mechanics (rules, rewards, punishments, etc) for the game. It’s probably not something you’ve thought about because any good games you’ve played will have been designed so well, you won’t notice that you’re learning a new set of rules to play them with. Also, you’ll only be playing with the final design, which are actually based on many iterations of failed designs before them.
To frame this thought, let’s take two famous board games- Risk and Monopoly. Think about the rules for a second- how long do you think it took them to perfect the balance of starting positions and army sizes in Risk? Or the price of properties in Monopoly? Or even just the amount of money each player got for passing 'Go'? I hope you see how complex these seemingly simple rules are during the design process.
We’re having similar discussions/tribulations with Monkey Panic – which is why it’s kind of sad to see articles like this. saying that video games aren’t art.
It all really comes down to your definition of what ‘art’ is- something that allows personal interpretation? Something which creates emotions in people? Something that is created out of nothing? Probably a combination of all three.
Of course if you take the official definition of art here. (probably better than my version. In fact, almost definitely better), you can understand why we’d consider game design art. The amount of creativity you have to have in order to create rules that work out of nothing- in fact it’s not dissimilar to writing a novel (although this is pure speculation from someone who reads as I have never written a novel). We are creating a world from scratch, and also creating its rules and boundaries. I've read Wuthering Heights- there were lots of rules and boundaries there. So it must be similar.
Yes, there are limitations we have to impose on the game in order to make it work, but you could argue that those limitations are in every work of art. A picture has an end, a boundary, and therefore can only contain a limited amount of stuff for a viewer to process. Plays and movies have an end, and again are limited (in their case by their running time). Looking at these more ‘traditional’ art forms and the boundaries they have, the limitations of video games and their ‘rules’ are not as, well, limiting to making video games ‘art’.
What do you think? Let us know. We’re always interested in healthy debate.
In the meantime- we’ll continue to think of ourselves as avant-garde artists because what we’re trying is innovative. And also avant-garde means ‘vanguard’ in French, and vanguards are cool (in fact, as it’s the end of the blog post, let’s go completely off-topic: vanguards were the hardest class to master in Mass Effect 1/2/3. Discuss.).