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GameCareerGuide Feature: Learning Design From D&D

In today's GameCareerGuide feature, educator Lewis Pulsipher twists a popular essay into a salient game design lesson on a classic, and offers up "All I Re
In today's GameCareerGuide feature, educator Lewis Pulsipher twists a popular essay into a salient game design lesson on a classic, and offers up "All I Really Needed to Know About Games I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons". Says Pulsipher, "What has been called 'techno-fetishism' sometimes dominates the ranks of AAA-list game creators. The idea is that you have to use technology to make the appearance of a game highly 'realistic' in order to let the player feel like he's really there... In D&D, however, we could feel like we were really there, at times, with nothing but a simple board and 2D pieces. It's the game, not the technology." Pulsipher presents a list of six observations he has made as a game designer, and nine as a player, that stem from his extensive play time with Dungeons & Dragons. Of course, the "player" ones also inform the designer -- because what's enjoyable to a player is of the utmost relevance. For example, from the designer side, Pulsipher observes "The objective is to make the players think their characters are going to die, not to kill them. So many bad D&D referees get tied up in 'holding up the side', as the British would say, in making sure that the bad guys make a really good showing, that they forget the point. The point is not that the bad guys do really well, it's that they do well enough to give the players a scare -- and then lose." From the player perspective, on the other hand, Pulsipher notes "Think before you leap. So many poor players seem to have their brains turned off. Nowadays some video games don't give you time to think, but many do -- use it." The full feature, All I Really Needed to Know About Games I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons, is live today on GameCareerGuide.com, Gamasutra's education-focused sister site.

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