We Are All Game Designers

This is actually due to some some philosophizing I’ve been doing lately.

Every one of us who are involved in the roleplaying hobby are game designers. Sure, it comes in matters of degree – some players never get much more involved than creating their characters, while on the other end are the obvious ones who tackle creating entire games. But even sitting down and planning out a session is game design.

That’s a great hippy-feely notion, but it begets a corollary. It’s easy to get lost in the “design mode” and just come up with something that’s not fun or doesn’t work quite right in actual play (as I firmly believe happened with Exalted 2e – looked good on paper, but not so great in practice for me). It’s also easy to get caught up in “gamer ADD” and change things in the middle of things just because some new method, technique, house rule, whatever caught your interest.

That’s my designer hat, right there

FWIW, my own Tribe 8 game recently suffered from a bit of, “This looked good when I designed it, but I’m not sure it’s working so well in play.” There were a number of factors involved, up to and including a reasonably large hiatus from running games; balancing design goals and intended outcomes over the course of multiple iterations of the rules; and finally adapting to playing online versus face-to-face (where I think this would have been resolved much faster). As a result, I’ve kind of changed things about the skill implementation mid-stride. In this case, I think the change was a good one but it definitely got me thinking about the propensity to be in “designer mode”, and the impact it can have on an actual living game.

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