Conceptualising Game Design – A Tangible approach to Level Design

Henry Sun & Justin Carter Part of CW17

Conceptualising and communicating game design ideas amongst teams of game developers can be an enigmatic process. Designers of video games often rely on rapid prototyping and iterative approaches to creating game play experiences. Deep and meaningful experiences are not always easily expressed in the form of words and as a result, initial design intentions are often misinterpreted and or poorly communicated. This often leads to designers of games relying on a serendipitous approaches as they intrinsically move toward design intentions. These approaches are largely derived from traditional models of agile software development placing little emphasis on the cognitive process of individuals in the development team. Therefore, approaches based in theories of cognition are rarely considered for designers of games. One such area of this field is tangible design which attempts to investigate links between cognitive science and the physical tactile world. The impact that tangible approaches have on collaborative game design is yet to be thoroughly investigated. 

This paper describes a practice-led study that aims to test the influence of tactile 3D printed video game assets on cognitive processes and design communication for teams when conceptualising game designs. This is achieved through a review of existing literature in the field, followed by an in depth analyses of a tangible approach to game level design. Through this process the study presents a deeper understanding of the implications that tangible design strategies have on conceptualising and communicating game designs.