Truth and Lies in Game Design

I reserve a special place of loathing for a particular type of game, which wouldn’t be so bad if that type of game weren’t so incredibly common. I’ve heard several people say that it’s literally the entire point of all games, which doesn’t bode so well for me. Given how pervasive this type of game is, I sometimes can feel pretty alone in this viewpoint, but I’m pretty sure I’m not. I may just be the only one to say it out loud. I’ve spent a long time trying to articulate this idea, but I’m finally going to try to say it: the emperor has no clothes. Games have been lying to us. Blatant lies. Shameless lies. And we love them so much that we believe them anyway. Continue reading

World of Warcraft: A Case Study in Design Focus


With a peak subscriber rate of twelve million players and a rotating, on-and-off player base, it’s hard to imagine that there are many video gamers left who haven’t at least tried Blizzard’s magnum opus, World of Warcraft. After all, it’s got so many games in it, so much content! It’s got something for everyone, so how can you go wrong?

Turns out a lot can go wrong.

Turns out that when you try to make the omni-game, when you try to have “a little of everything,” you end up with a lot half-baked ideas and broken systems; that when you try to please everyone, you don’t really satisfy anyone. Turns out that you can’t just mix everything together at the WoW All-U-Can-Eat buffet and still expect to have something good in the end. Continue reading