Game Development Reference
I don't think anyone can prescribe the best values for all designers. I
do, however, think that every designer could benefit from thinking about
what values they believe in. Because values keep us steady. They are im-
mutable standards that stabilize us against the political and emotional
turmoil of daily design work.
These are the designer values that I believe in. What are yours?
Openness means respectfully accepting ideas with which you disagree.
Without openness, a design studio must either homogenize everyone's
views, shut down debate by shutting people up, or self-destruct in a storm
of bitter disagreement.
Openness doesn't just mean letting people speak—it means respect-
ing their contribution with open body language and genuine discussion. It
doesn't mean accepting every idea, but it does mean thinking about every
idea in a meaningful way. This isn't always easy. As Aristotle said, “It is
the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without
Openness grows from believing in the uncertainty of your own ideas.
The best designers I've known will say, “My gut says,” or “From what I've
seen,” or “I'm pretty sure that,” or “The way I see it,” at the start of almost
every sentence. These aren't just verbal tics. These designers understood
that being unsure is the honest truth. We're always uncertain. By con-
stantly verbalizing uncertainty, they keep the door open for discussion.
They leave room in their minds for the better ideas of others, and turn out
wiser in the end.
It's seductively easy to go with the f low of opinion. It requires little
thought, and doesn't risk social standing. Everyone walks away happy.
But in the long run, too much agreement kills a game. Without anyone
to point them out, inconsistencies creep into the design and multiply like
cancer cells. The design team agrees and agrees, and the game ships full
of holes. Constant agreement only looks like team cohesion on the surface.
In reality, it signals either rampant mental laziness or a climate of fear.
Whereas openness is about accepting ideas, candor is about having
your own ideas and being willing to present them. It means having the
moral courage to voice a contrary opinion even when it would be easier to
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