I remember the opening of Jesse Shell’s book, The Art of Game Design. There is a mantra: I am a game designer.
When I think about game design I identify 4 main areas:
- Systems design
- Gameplay (or UX) design
- Level design
- Narrative design
To be more concrete, all game design is system design. Level and narrative design create gameplay and shape the player experience (UX, if you prefer). Narrative design has many things to share with level design too.
The narrative design delivers the most evident pieces of the game, from the Player’s perspective. The system is less visible but rules them all. In the middle, there is gameplay and level design.
Rules, which are part of the gameplay to me, influence the design of the UI. The UI is that part of gameplay (or UX) that connects with the narrative. UI is evident and tells something to the Players. So that is narrative to me.
There are many points of view on that, and that’s good. The simple term “design” has a broad meaning. And the geo where we work influences our vision too. Companies from the US tend to focus more on hyper-specialization. Here in Southern Europe, we do EVERYTHING. Also the coffee!
Then there is the personal factor. I am a game designer. That to me means:
- work with everything from system to narrative
- grab a course on narrative design and a year later on level design.
- strive to master Excel, Unity, Unreal Engine and all the tools to create systems and gameplay
- take screens and create wireframes and docs detailing rules and mechanics.