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who do you design for?

So here's a question for designers out there. Who's your audience? Do you design a game only with the goal that it's something you'd want to play? Do you design not caring at all if anyone else would like it? Assuming you've done more than one, how much does your audience change from game to game?

Here's one more thought, as I ramble on and avoid going back to my Milton paper. Mark Twain once commented on classics as being books people praise and don't read. I wonder how and when that will apply to the DIY gaming fringe, and how it'll affect things. What happens when there's a really profound rules idea in a game where you play sponges and it supposedly raises questions about human suffering? Everyone will be like, man, it's so brilliant, and they'll buy the book, and maybe play it once. Is that a good thing? Is it a bad thing? What do you think? Maybe another way of thinking about it is if it's both art and a game, what order of preference do you have for the two?

I expect our fringe will be like a lot of other fringes: people designing kooky, different stuff that nerver gets widely adopted as-is. But the ideas will percolate down, and get integrated into something more mainstream, perhaps by particular people who are good popularizers. Personally, I'm just gonna do my own thing, and if other people take it up, so be it.

If I'm being honest I'll admit that I design for myself first. Ultimately game design is an extremely personal passion. That said, the passion doesn't mean anything if someone else doesn't put it into motion. So in that sense, it starts from me, but it goes out to players. I want to design something people will continue to play after I'm dead. A little grandiose of me, perhaps.

What games have been praised among the DIY set that haven't been give the trial be fire (fire = play) and valued exactly by how well they work at the table?

Judd, I think the question is really how many of those games you play more than once. How many games do you praise for success in the fire that you haven't since played, even though you could have?

And so if there's more than one or two of those games out there, do those games serve a different purpose?

My Life with Master is somewhat like that for me personally. It was just an intense experience to play that game and I haven't been in a space where I really want to take it out again...yet.

The other games that I really enjoyed I've played a number of times, though.

So...I dunno.

I design for myself and the gaming group I've been part of for nearly a decade now. Then everyone else. If my group doesn't like a design, I consider it either a theoretical success only or a complete failure.

I agree with Jasper on the trickle down effect.

As for the other issue . . .

I bought HeroQuest. I've read it twice. Played through the mechanics by myself. Robbed some of the ideas for some of my designs. But that's it. My fellow players aren't interested in bidding mechanics.

I've done this with a number of games. There are more games than I can ever possibly play through. Even if I play twice a week (which I don't usually). And sometimes you find a game like My Life with Master, and you think: "Wow this is innovative and cool. I'd love to play it." Then the people you regularly play with go: "Yeah that's cool but we'd don't want to play it. Not our bag, baby."

I think this happens a lot more with quirky indie designs, but that doesn't make me love them any less.

Along the same lines, I read most game reviews that sound interesting whether I intend to play the games or not. You can still learn things.

And I certainly do this in my regular field of novel writing. Again, I can only read so many. For the rest, I scan reviews, synopses, cover blurbs, and what have you.

I think this is all part of the natural creative process for designers who have to find time to play through their own stuff, too.

It's a good thing, all in all, because it improves design and spreads ideas.

I don't think I could design for anyone but myself.

I suspect that is the war that I am having in designing the PTA Mass Market Card Game (for lack of a better description.) I have a solid rules set spun off of the original PTA rules and adapated for card play. However, my eye is towards the mass market, but I keep wanting to interject elements that I like/want, but know that they are generally more complicated than the mass market non-gamer will immediately warm too.

Although, maybe I just need to stop second guessing myself and allow the play testers to just get their hands on it and tell me what is right or wrong.

What games have been praised among the DIY set that haven't been give the trial be fire (fire = play) and valued exactly by how well they work at the table?

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