Photo by Bella Biafore
UM-Flint’s Game Design Club focuses not only on designing online and tabletop games, but also analyzing popular ones to learn more about the gaming world. Whether it be animation or the storyline, members dive into each category.
“For the most part we spend most of our time actually talking about the art of game design as there are a lot of factors to it,” said Game Design Club President Andrew Davis, who has a major in computer science. “A lot of people when they think of games you’ve got programmers, that’s your large part. You also have your artists, you’ve got the writers, you have all sorts of people involved and talking about those different disciplines.”
What many do not realize is the amount of strategy and planning that goes into each game. Davis went on to explain how aspects of game design based on psychology, like operant conditioning, serve to enhance a game’s playability. “This is often done to artificially extend the playtime of a game as short games are often considered less valuable,” said Davis.
“The majority of our time is having people present on ideas, using games specifically as like ‘this game did this very well,’ [or] ‘this game kind of lacked in this way.’”
Besides analyzing games, the club encourages students to come in and learn more about game design. Regardless of skill level, everyone is capable of creating their own game.
“Another thing we actually do is try to get people involved in making games, because it’s really great to talk about it, but most people want to make something, have something they can show off,” said Davis.
More recently the club has been giving members a two week deadline in which they use their own personal time to create a game. A theme is given and members can interpret it however they want, but it must be used in their game.
“We make all sorts of games! Platformers, Puzzle games, silly projects to make our friends laugh, and anything we can get away with our busy school schedules,” said Game Design Treasurer and UM-Flint Senior Kyle Gibbs.
In the past they have done themes like ‘light the way,’ which gives members a lot of flexibility to use their own creativity.
“ … I’m most proud of [my] first game I’ve ever made called “WanderBot.” The character is a little robot that walks around the screen while bombs are falling on him,” said Gibbs. “It’s the player’s job to create protective shields above his head, but their shields are limited, and he can go wherever he wants to … they can either help or hurt the player, and they need to adjust accordingly,” said Gibbs.
Outside of meetings, the club is hoping to hold more events to engage students who enjoy gaming or want to learn more. Since the Video Game Club is no longer on campus, Game Design Club wants to step up and get more students involved.
“We’ve been talking about maybe getting a big game day going at some point,” said Davis. “ … Last year we did one event over at Disc Replay just to test the water to see if people wanted to do just a big game day and show off a whole bunch of games and that went really well.”
The club is hoping to visit a game development conference in San Francisco in which they would use the money they raise from their event to attend. “Getting people to fly out to San Francisco, hotel rooms and all of that costs a lot of money. If we can get some money to help people go that would be really neat,” said Davis.
With hopes to be more present on campus and get more students interested in game design, the club invites anyone to come in and learn more.
“You don’t have to know anything about programming, art, music, or anything to get started making/designing games. All you need is the desire to learn. If you enjoy playing a particular game, there’s probably something that draws you to it. We enjoy figuring out what those things are and creating enjoyable experiences others to enjoy,” said Gibbs.
Game Design Club meets every Wednesday in the Murchie Science Building from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in room 319. If you have any questions regarding game design or how to get involved contact Andrew Davis.