As a gamer, I’m often puzzled by decisions game designers make. This most often occurs with MMOs, where the eternal question of “poor decision or lack of resources?” seems to apply, but many console games come to mind, like the Gears of War magic chainsaw. Of course, as a gaming consumer, I am simply the target of disdain, condescension, and of course greed of the gaming industry. I sat pondering my frustration with the lack of two-way communication about design decisions in an era where second guessing the experts is the norm: we can go on WebMD and diagnose ourselves, yet I can’t get a straight answer out of a game designer. I’ve often wondered what it’d be like to sit down with a game designer and get the real scoop on why they did something in their game that makes absolutely no sense.
And then it hit me. The answer is, of course, a game show. The concept is simple: envision a game show, likely on Spike, where famous game designers are put on the stand. They are asked a series of difficult questions about their game design by a panel composed of industry experts and casual fans. For example “Epic, why did you make the chainsaw animation bizarrely long and also invulnerable in Gears of War?” or “Blizzard, why did you dumb down the challenge in your game until it could be played by a 3 year old with fetal alcohol syndrome?” Game designers will then be given a chance to rationalize their decision. And it has to be a lead designer – no sending the new guy or the intern to do your dirty work.
And why? Well, if you recall “You Can’t Do that on Television” on Nickelodeon (not to mention several other Nickelodeon slime based TV shows or activities), the threat of being slimed is great: not just the act of whatever the hell that stuff is, but the humiliation of of being publicly slimed made it all the worse. Any designer who does not explain his case to the panel of judges will find himself summarily slimed on national TV. Naturally, this can’t just be a TV show of vengeance. The incentive to appear on such a torture would be to promote a company, promote a game, and make rivals look bad. Arguably, one could set the show up to be a face off of designers and games, where the terrible are punished and the rational rewarded.
It is completely unrealistic, but I needed something to fantasize about as I experienced the latest atrocity of a patch from Eve Online.