Theory I: The Ethics of This Blog

Theory posts are not very well grounded in actual reality, but at least I get to say some dumb stuff all at once.

There are some real tricks when it comes to making this blog. I want to talk about everything I am planning, doing, you name it. But I can’t.

There is also my desire to read content that is aimed at innovation in game design in the live and interactive industries. There is some, but not a ton that satisfies. There is a list of hindrances we all share. The most common content I find in blogs and forums and videos are reviews, explanations of the industry to potential players, tips for new owners and staff, and some good advice on designing good experiences, with even a few case studies or open willingness to show off puzzles. There are many companies that make props for games, as well as some full play-throughs in TV and YouTube series. I think there are a solid list of reasons why, and I am trying my best to push against them rather than give the same thing I usually see.

In starting this blog, I have been thrown a few questions about this, and while I can have a well thought out answer,I also have a fairly snarky one too. I will endeavor to include both, and help you, whoever you are, understand where this blog is coming from.

Are you worried about giving away your secrets?

Respectful Answer: What secrets? What about what I or any designer does is really a secret? I do have moments where I feel like I come up with something original, but puzzles are very, very old. Video games get to implement them way faster than physical games, and I can’t imagine a puzzle coming up that isn’t in some way preceded by something similar, whether the creator knows it or not. I have found out my ‘original’ ideas were not so original, mainly because of other people. “Oh so this is like that game.” Yeah, yeah, I guess it is. What secrets? I don’t think I have many of them, if at all. If I say something on this blog that feels like I am giving away something very specifically mine, something that can be ‘stolen’ and used, keep in mind: I have already posted it, and consent to it being stolen. Emulation is flattery.

Not Respectful Answer: NOPE. If I was worried, I wouldn’t post it.

What about your contract?

Respectful Answer: Okay, so this is a real thing. I can’t share secrets or designs from work without explicit permission. I cannot talk about upcoming projects.I cannot do a bunch of stuff. That’s fine. Those aren’t secrets: Anyone who works with me or plays the games will find them out. So, think of it this way: If you wished you could see what I’m working on, come play? I mean, it isn’t exactly in a vault. I will talk about other stuff.

Not Respectful Answer: Do you even know what my contract says? ARE YOU A MIND READER?

If you post here about other stuff, it won’t be as good as what you are using at work.

Respectful Answer: I mean, for every idea that goes in,a dozen or so wander by. I wave at them, they wave back, and then I don’t bother with them again. They are not fundamentally better or worse than the ideas I use at work. The ideas I use at work fit. I have plenty of ideas and projects that don’t fit, and I can draw on those if I need examples. I also play a lot of games and can vaguely reference them if needed.

Not Respectful Answer: That wasn’t even a question. Get it together.

Is this like a magician revealing their secrets?

Respectful Answer: This is technically a two part question, because it has two meanings: The audience, and fellow magicians.

The audience is sacrosanct. Untouchable. Their pleasure and happiness is our goal. They must be satisfied. That being said, there are audience members, often new players, who won’t necessarily have read this far into a single post on this niche, under-read blog. Those folks are fine. Whatever. Then there are those that do. Anyone reading deep into a contrarian and ridiculous design blog are nerds, and I like nerds. My audience is mostly nerds. Even though I am a nerd, even though I know a lot about game design, I still love games. I still enjoy them. The readers will too.

Then there are other makers of games. If I reveal something you felt was secret, I am sorry. The five or so other people who read this blog will not enjoy that part of your game, I guess. But at the same time, I am not naming businesses when giving vague critiques or lessons learned. Also, I only try to in-depth mess with mechanics and designs that are overused or basic. If your ‘secret’ is revealed here, I would take a note that it isn’t a secret. A lot of other people do it, many players have seen it.

Overall, I also think of it this way: Magicians who reveal old magic might be seen as troublemakers and traitors, but then the new magic folks come up with is of a higher quality. So, make something better. Make something new. Make something I don’t understand, thus I can’t blog about it. Surprise me.

Not Respectful Answer: Anyone who doesn’t like it can suck an egg.

Why not write about the other stuff? Like basic tips or reviews?

Respectful Answer: No reviews. I work for an immersive entertainment company, I cannot go around getting critical. It isn’t for good partnership. On the other hand, if a place asked for a review, I would do one, and then ask them to read it over before I post it. But that is unlikely. I am not easily pleased and can easily get over-critical. You don’t want me reviewing things. I am not your regular demographic of player. As for basic tips, others have done it already, and better. And go to the conferences or meet-ups, talk to owners and gamemasters. It is better to hear advice in person, anyway.

Not Respectful Answer: Yes, this blog walks a fine line, but I am not out to ruin anything that shouldn’t be ruined.

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