Look and Feel

Look & Feel

We have the rules, we have the gameplay, now lets make it look and feel great!

 

It’s time to develop the look and feel of your game or game-based learning experience. This known in the trade as the game aesthetics. Aesthetics are hugely important as they refer to the sensations and emotions the user experiences when playing your game or taking part in your gamified process. 

These sensations can be visual (appearance, character design, illustration), aural (the way it sounds, audio effects) haptic (how it feels to the touch, how it responds physically), and embodied (how it makes the player feel emotionally; i.e. pleasurable, emotional, social, etc). 

What will your game look like?

Make a mockup of the game environment. What this looks like will depending on the kind of game you are creating. For example, you could make paper illustrations of a board or card game, showing the way your players interact with your game. If your game is digital, you could create a sketch of a virtual world, the characters within it, the different items that are available within the game, and so on. Dive deep into the narrative of your game and describe how you want players to experience your game. This still applies to gamified courses and processes, you just need to think about the materials and assets used. If they are not engaging, then they’ll have a negative effect on the overall experience.

If there are characters in your game, what will they look like? How will they sound? If your game is based in an environment, draw these environments as best you can. Write details explaining the environments and how they feel.

If there are items in the game, describe what they represent, how you intend for the player to react to these items in relation to the rules (mechanics), and gameplay (dynamics) that you have set out in the previous two quests.

What will your game feel like?

You’ve already created a game proposal in the first mission that explains the basic idea behind your game, so we’re not looking for a rehashing of the same basic overview. Instead we’re talking about what the emotional reactions, and sensations you want your players to feel at different stages of the game. If your game is heavily story based (for example a fantasy role-playing game) then fleshing out your game’s narrative is key to exploring the aesthetics of your game. Write this up in detail, explaining how your story ties into different aspects and events within your game. Explain how the different rules trigger responses, reactions, and decisions throughout your game. What emotions and interactions do you intend to evoke?

If your game is more straightforward in design and isn’t story based, then focus your narrative more on the responses, reactions, and decisions within the gameplay, as well as the interface and game environments your players will interact with.

Use your head, take advantage of the open resource available

There’s a lot to think about, so we recommend you do some thorough research online for game aesthetics that relate to the kind of game you plan to make. Design diaries make for great examples and sources of inspiration, so check the design diary archive in the resource section below for more information.

Once you have your mockup designs, expanded stories or project themes, and aesthetic descriptions of the look and feel of your game, add them to your design blog, and share them with the GC community using the #GCaesthetics hashtag.

Learning Resources

OpenGameArt.org

Repository of open and free game art. Dive in and use it as a repository of game art inspiration

AudioJungle.net – Game Sound Archive

Repository of open and free game sounds… but really, anything goes!

Paper – What We Talk About When We Talk About Game Aesthetics

For a deep dive read this detailed paper on game aesthetics by Simon Niedenthal from Malmö University’s School of Arts and Communication, Malmö, Sweden

Gamasutra – The Aesthetics of Game Art and Game Design

By Chris Solarski, this article examines the psychology of shapes and dynamic composition.

Extra Credits – Aesthetics of Play: Redefining Genres in Gaming

The awesome Extra Credits tam talk game genres and some game design theory.

To play a game well, you need to know how it works! Game design thinking will help us to inject fun in problem solving. As part of the Game Changers community, we will go through the missions and quests towards understanding the secret to game design and the relevance in learning. And most of all, we will have fun and gain new skills in the process.

Game Design Thinking
Sylvester Arnab, GC Team

Say hello to the group and share your thoughts and what your skills are. You never know when you might want to trade knowledge and skills to make your games better! We believe in learning together and from each other, so jump in!

Community
Kate Green, GC Team
The Game Changers programme is all about being open and sharing your ideas with the wider community, read our Open Guidelines for suggestions of great platforms you can use to share your work!
Open Platforms
Alex Masters, GC Team