Dissertation: The Decision Draws Closer
September 30th, 2013

On Tuesday I need to hand in a summary of my chosen subject/question for my dissertation. Yesterday I decided to completely scrap my research and chosen subject of piracy / freedom of internet in favour of pursuing the direction that I’d really like to take my career in – game design.

Currently I’m in a bit of a research frenzy trying to get something together by Tuesday – I’m after a subject in which researching it will help inform my game design, which I plan to ruthlessly practise wherever I can throughout my final year. I’d also like to bring in what I’ve learnt from my time studying graphic design, as that’s the skill set which I hope to bring with me into game design and development.

I reached out to a Reddit-based game design community asking for guidance – texts, books and lectures to get me started, areas which are over-saturated with research which I should avoid writing about, and to spark general discussion. I’ll talk about what I’ve been advised on:

PEOPLE TO LOOK AT ≈
Eric Zimmerman
I’ve since read his essay Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games: Four naughty concepts in need of discipline, which was fantastic. I’ll write a post about it soon.
Jesper Juul
Appears to have a lot of publications which will be great to look at.
Gonzala Frasca
Appears to be an influential figure who works with serious and political videogames.

BOOKS ≈
Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation by Steve Swink

While this appears to be an excellent book that I should (and will) read, I don’t expect it to be the avenue that I’ll explore for my dissertation – perhaps I can pull ideas from it into the text, however.
Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell
Again, a book which seems fantastic for the fundamentals/mechanics of game design which I’m sure I’ll get, but not really a specific avenue to explore.

WEBSITES / BLOGS
penny-arcade.com/patv/show/extra-credits
I’ve actually been watching this already, great source for people getting into game design.
gamasutra.com
Appears to be a very extensive source for game design.
clicknothing.typepad.com
Game designer’s blog – appears to write interesting articles.
raphkoster.com
Another game designer
bogost.com
Video Game Theory, Criticism and Design

OTHER NOTABLE COMMENTS / SUGGESTIONS
I came across another graphic design student who is also looking at crossing over to the games industry and is writing his dissertation on game design, “I’m basing my thesis on how video games can tell stories that other media cannot. It’s looking into mechanics as metaphor mostly, but it takes the assumption that games do tell stories (which, as you’ll find the more you look, there’s a huge debate surrounding that…).”
This is exactly what I read about in one of Eric Zimmerman’s essays – an extremely interesting debate. I’d be very tempted to jump into that as my chosen subject, but I’m sure that further reading will bring more subjects better toned to me to light. Also, knowing that another graphic design student is writing about it already makes it much less appealing!

Another user commented, “investigate how immersion in games compares to the subjective experience that you can get from religion, art, or psychedelics. There may be some parallels. In more depth how said experience plays into design or graphic decisions if at all. I’m not sure if it’s been investigated.”
Although I doubt that I’ll explore this area without a solid understanding of psychology / psychoanalysis or something, it really does interest me – I read the other day about Roger Caillois, who talks about altering perception being a form of play, and how this can be related to the use of hallucinogenics (as mentioned briefly in my previous blog post).

TO WRAP UP
I’ve got some solid starting points – I’ll be spending the most part of tomorrow looking for something that I can hone in on. What I’ve decided I should look at most is some crossover between game design and graphic design. It’s astonishing how so many games appear to completely neglect graphic design, and I’d like to help bring that change to the industry. It’s certainly something for me to think about.