As I stated in the introduction, this book is not a definitive guide to computer game design. No book can be. But it has attempted to inform the reader of what I know about game design, in addition to sharing the thoughts of seven of game design s most accomplished masters. Of course, none of the information in this book will amount to much if the reader is not prepared to use it to the right ends. As with any art form, computer games demand that their authors have a personal investment in their creations if the games are to be truly worthwhile. I feel that computer games have a great power to affect their audience, and a game designer has a tremendous responsibility to use that power wisely.
The game development industry seems to be constantly involving itself with discussions of whether computer games qualify as an art form. Some other discussions center around whether computer games will ever be legitimate art. Such arguments are completely fruitless. We cannot make the public see us as legitimate merely by tooting our own horn and bragging of our accomplishments. Some people still fail to see film or jazz music or comic books as legitimate art and those forms have a body of work which, due in part to their age, dwarfs what computer games have produced. The question must be asked, Would you do anything differently if computer games were or were not art? Surely the best way to convince the public that we are legitimate is to act like it by producing works as compelling as those found in any other media.
Of course computer games are art. Could anything be more obvious? This is especially true if one uses the definition of art that I am most fond of, from Scott McCloud s magnificent book Understanding Comics : Art, as I see it, is any human activity which doesn t grow out of either of our species two basic instincts : survival and reproduction. It would appear that many game developers who constantly scream games are art have a certain insecurity complex and feel the need to justify working in games to their family or friends , to the public as a whole, or even to themselves . Such insecurities seldom lead to an artist working at her full capacity, since she is constantly going out of her way to prove herself. This seldom leads to great work; more often it leads to pretentious trash. When asked if he agreed with critics who said his films qualified as art, Alfred Hitchcock replied, Oh, I m very glad when they do, but it s not like taking page one of a script and then saying, ˜I will now start a work of art. It s ridiculous ” you can t do it. Quality games are most likely produced when those developing them have no motives other than creating the most compelling experience for players.