game design Roleplaying Games

Cross Disciplinary Learning

I’m writing this fresh off of listening to a podcast about machine learning and quantum computing. There’s some amazing things going on there, the kind of thing that you would think doesn’t immediately have a lot to do with game design. But there’s so much!

The big thing that keeps coming up across both is trying to identify edge cases. Businesses and key people working in these fields talk about the capacity to identify and deal with edge cases. With quantum computing you’re regularly examining complex software that is jumping ahead of anything else that is going on, resulting in the focus being on those issues that you didn’t expect. The process here bears so many similarities to the approach of developing a new game. The purpose is, so often, to test how the “computer” (in this case your players) are processing the software (your game design) you’ve put in front of them. Whenever something goes wrong – you need to make the determination whether the problem is on the “software” or the “computer”.

There are compelling pieces going on across multiple different areas of expertise. I am concerned that a lot of people who are designers, or who want to be designers, are spending too much time reading from the game design space. It reflects what, I think, happened during the 90s in comics (an era that I think we should be looking at for a lot of lessons… but that’s another issue).

The most successful creative types, and I think we need to accept that game designers fall into that zone of “creative types”, are those who look at drastically different topics and areas. Finding parallels, synthesizing different information, and otherwise looking at things that aren’t obviously about game design is going to be integral to create the most compelling products you ever could.

Just some thoughts before we head off to Origins. Hope to see some people there!

-Tyler

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