The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

by Jesse Schell, Carnegie Mellon University, 2008

Game design is the act of deciding what a game should be; thousands of decisions: story, rules, look and feel, pacing, risk-taking, rewards, punishments, etc

"An architect does not need to know everything the carpenter knows, but an architect must know everything the carpenter is capable of."

There is no "unified theory of game design", no simple formula to make good games
"We are in a position something like the ancient alchemists."
Game makers await their Mendeleev (the guy who discovered the periodic table); we have our own patchwork of principles and rules which allows us to get the job done, but is less than perfect.

Books are necessarily linear; one idea must be presented at a time. Game design is a web of creativity, psychology, art, technology, and business, where everything is connected to everything else.

"To truly learn, remember, and understand, your mind must be in a state of questing, of seeking to find knowledge."
Make things intentionally less clear "so that when you do uncover the truth, it means something to you."

The game enables the experience, but it is not the experience. "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Game designers have to deal with more interaction than designers of linear experiences; we create feelings of choice, freedom, responsibility, and accomplishment, something that books, movies, plays, etc, don't offer.

The Heisenberg Principle: This principle, in reference to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle from quantum mechanics, points out that the motion of a particle cannot be observed without disturbing the motion of that particle. Similarly, the nature of an experience cannot be observed without disturbing the nature of that experience.

"The only reality that we can know is the reality of the experience. And we know that what we experience is “not really reality. ” We filter reality through our senses, and through our minds, and the consciousness we actually experience is a kind of illusion — not really reality at all. But this illusion is all that can ever be real for us, because it is us. This is a headache for philosophers, but a wonderful thing for game designers, because it means that the designed experiences that are created through our games have a chance of feeling as real and as meaningful (and sometimes more so) than our everyday experiences."