Thursday, March 16, 2006

Editorial: High Speed Game Design

In the midst of Iron Game Chef, I am reminded once again why rapid game design and development can be so illuminating. Part of the nature of research is to break your subject into the simplest possible parts, removing everything which is not necessary to produce the effects you are studying. That process of refinement and distillation leads to the insight of what is essential and irreducible.

Rapid design forces a narrowing of attention, it almost assures that something will be forgotten that we might otherwise include given more time and awareness. In an accidental way we perform experiments that would never occur otherwise. And the results can be as surprising when the work as when they don't. In either case we have built a deeper glimpse of what might really be happening when we play.

While feelings vary about the relationship between theory and game design, I feel that a theorist is only doing their work a disservice by not attempting some form of rapid game design, such as Iron Game Chef or 24 Hour RPG. Indeed, because of how these competitions can provide fruitful discoveries I feel that it is more important for serious RPG theorists to attempt them, rather than focusing on more long term design goals such as publication. In the very least when you finish a high speed design you can set it aside, and then focus on your theory development.

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