Ten Game Design Principles for the Next Ten Years

Posted on: Thursday 04 July 2013 6:12pm by Jan Leventhall


Game Designer Breaks the rules! Dr Carla Englebrecht Fisher describes 11 Game Design Principles for the Next 10 Years ….

Speaker: Dr Carla Engelbrecht Fisher – Games Designer and Founder, No Crusts Interactive

Completely buzzed – want to go home, download apps and start playing.
Claire Pye, Macmillan Education

Information base was brilliant – more useful than others who just plug their own stuff.
Dinah Lammiman, PastPorte.

An update on dialogue within the games.
Sannette Naeye, Cinekid Festival

Top then takeaways. (ok, for this one there are in fact 11).

1.     Look for inspiration everywhere even in inappropriate places (i.e. adult games) as emerging technology and good storytelling in the adult world are excellent sources for adaptation.

2.     Foster dialogic play. Kids connect with each other through co-play and this can help the development of co-operative communication and social skills.

3.     Practice dual premise design, by designing games that suit different skill levels at the same time.  Beginners and more advance players should be able to play together.

4.     Scaffolding is important to avoid chaos, particularly in the educational context.  Use to put the child at the centre and motivate and consider alternative forms of scaffolding that keeps the game moving forward.

5.     Embrace data.  Data can be used to create strategy and educate children through encouraging them to use data to place themselves in the real or imaginary world.

6.    Build in real-time feedback.  Contextualise data for up to date reporting on progress to gamers or parents in an educational setting.

7.     Use achievements to motivate learning and extend the game as new strategies have to be devised to achieve rewards.

8.     Be different!  There are 3,600 ABC apps alone and 94k active education apps. Don’t go into the crowded areas unless you have lots of money or are Disney!

9.     Create distributed learning opportunities – mainstream apps can be both entertaining, motivational and educational.

10. Test early, test often, adjust and repeat.  Be prepared to modify your plan.  It will be good for you.

AND ….(your extra point for free).

11. Foster discovery and curiosity.  Play around, try things out, touch, wander and explore the world.

I approached this session with trepidation as my knowledge and record with computer games is not good – I remember in 1980 being killed by trolls playing the Hobbit on my Spectrum ZX, ten years later being trampled by the Lion King Stampede and more recently being eaten by Zombies on my mobile phone!  Not a good success rate.  But I didn’t have to worry – Plants v. Zombies was highlighted as a good example of a resource management strategy driven achievement game.  Hey, I never knew I was so current.

This session was inspirational – I with many others left enthused to try out the fascinating games we had been introduced to, particularly the adult games cited as “inappropriate inspiration.”   To succeed in the busy market place games have to stand out, be different, technologically up to the minute and offer multi-layered experiences.  Gaming can offer children the positive experience of playing together on a single screen which can be both educational and fun, and the eleven points offered all strongly leaned towards the importance of designing games that offer co-play and multi-player skill levels.  Games that get kids playing with technology in a positive way – or in this case an adult!

The full slide set for this presentation.

To find out more you can contact carla@NoCrusts.com or check out the Kids Got Game blog on Kidscreen.com

Producer: Olivia Dickinson – Freelance Producer

Exec Producer: Gary Pope – Director, Kids Industries


Event Reports

Jan Leventhall

About the author

Jan Leventhall

Formerly Development Executive for Children’s and Young People’s Programmes at Central/Carlton Television, Jan was involved in the development of a range of children’s programmes including ‘Press Gang’ and ‘Harry’s Mad’.  She was the originator and associate producer of seven series of the multi-award winning C4 series ‘Wise Up.’  More recently… Read more