Playing with Design: The Universality of Design in Game Development

Playing with Design: The Universality of Design in Game Development

Pedro Mota Teixeira (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal), Maria João Félix (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal) and Paula Tavares (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0149-9.ch011


In recent years, digital games had the capacity to join a vast set of knowledge fields that provided them the status of one of the areas that has most contributed to the development of contemporary theory of new technologies and also to the development of new imagetic solutions, especially in tri-dimensional representation (3D). Digital games were the motto in the research of artificial intelligence, physical and virtual interfaces, the relationship between man and machine, virtual representation, and development in the field of digital animation. In this context, the aim of the authors’ proposal is to show the need and universality of design in the development of digital games, at the level of amusement games and, mainly, in serious games. Since the authors consider design as a project and understand design as an essential tool in the development of the project, they will dwell on the amplitude of design and designer in multidisciplinary teams of game creation. The following “4 Ds” will be studied and explained in detail: design of games, design of characters and virtual scenography, “design” of emotions, and design of the interface.
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“If interactivity can be located as a term that is more than its links and networks of communication and exchange, and be seen as something that is more about producing particular systems of knowledge, then the process happens through the formation of the digital subject.” Fuery, Kelli (Fuery, 2009)

Since its first appearance at the end of the 1970s, computer games have brought a computer culture (Turkle, 1995) to daily life of common citizens, included in a contemporary concept larger than Darlew (2000) named “digital visual culture”(Darley, 2000), where new signalings, rules and styles of virtual communication have become a constant.

In front of a computer, the world of games has promoted what Cadoz (1994) names as “immersion in the image” (Cadoz, 1994), teaching us about the action free of physical reality limitations (Cadoz, 1994). In this context, objects that do not exist, fly, spin, jump, speed up, change form and color, explode, disappear, appear again and are manipulated and stimulated by us.

At the basis of this cultural evolution there is a numerical calculation formula called computer code that according to Babbage (Manovich, 2001) represents, at last, a culture that was built with the use of computers (Postman, 1993).

In fact, this can be seen as a culminant point of a cultural process that has begun approximately 3500 years ago, with the invention of the Greek alphabet”. (Cruz, 2009)

The behavior of computer games, like the behavior of any other application created by a computer program, is only limited by the imagination of its programmer and of the artist, and thus, it is possible to assume that the first artists of computation art, in the 60s, were programmers.

“There was no other alternative. Each work, whether it was graphical, animation or music, was the result f a unique and inevitable act of writing of a computational code (...) So, it is not surprising that the debate related to the relationship between art and technique is sometimes considered in a very incisive way, and raises the question whether programmers and engineers are not in fact the real creators in the context of digital culture”. (Cruz, 2009)

If at an initial stage, this relationship between programmer and artist, is surpassed by technological development and graphical computing promoted by the industry of the “spectacular and the attraction” (Cubbit, 2007), it has then forced an increasing distance between the artist and the programmer, with the inclusion of other characters in the process of the project development, such as characters designer, digital artist, project designer, etc, promoting the multidisciplinarity of game creation teams.

The technology of digital and of the creation of specialized computer programs has quickly enabled artists to move in the much desired direction of the automation of production process, in a perspective of the trivialization of image and the demystification of the artistic object that Benjamim (Benjamin, 1992) calls an act that “devaluates the here and now”. This perspective is taken into extremes, since all digital information (popularized by lexicons such “dot jpg”, or “dot avi”) can be shared, duplicated in virtual environments, thanks to platforms such as the Internet, Facebook, or electronic mail.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Creative Process in Games: From idea to project the games, the first freehand drawings until the application and interpretation of the argument on the characters and scenarios, involving the storyboard and the implementation of the game.

Development of Characters: Design and characterization of characters, emotion and form in line.

Conceptual Design: Provides the character with a higher degree of credibility; it is the emotional content that makes the differences between technical skill and art. It this those ingredients, art, science and emotional acting that leeds to high degree of the character’s credibility.

Sophistication of “Rotoscopie”: Advances technology allows reaching different levels of human movements, a boundary between a real actor and a virtual credible substitute.

Interfaces Design: Understanding the interface as a commom boundary at which a user wishing to fulfill a certain task meets the product or artifact that is to perform that task, has increased the user´s involvement in the design process.

Tactile Attribute: Behind the increase in terms of functionality, touching the product has a psychological effect in the person that touches it. The designer has the task of understanding these factors that move the physical answer to pleasure in the direction of the end of the scale.

Operationality Touches: In the domain of operationality touches we see different aspects, such as perception, cognition, semantics, usability, ergonomics and experience quality, that are important to interfaces design and that need to be integrated in design process.

Fundamental Interventive Role: Each image must first be made with obsessively detailed like any other animation. But beyond that, the animator has the responsibility to “give life” to the character, pose, attitude, timing and expression of the movement, to convince an audience that the characters move and speak of their own free will.

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