“Game designer who I want to be when I grow up”
Unfortunately this post is somewhat inhibited by the fact that I don’t actually want to become a game designer, nor am I familiar with the work of any game designer at all. However, at an aesthetic level, I’m going to revert to my favorite game: Journey
In particular, I’ll focus on Jenova Chen / Chén Xīnghàn, the lead designer behind the game. Chen received his first degree in Computer Science in Shanghai then moved to California for their interactive media programme.
His intention at the time was to use the degree to get the kind of job he wanted back in China. At USC, he became inspired when he went to the Game Developers Conference, where he positively compared the games he had made in college with the student work present at the Independent Games Festival portion of the conference.
His first “important” game was Coud. Importantly, the goal of this game was to incite emotion in the player. (Cloud’s main character is a boy who’s mind flies around while he is trapped in a hospital bed — party based on Chen’s childhood history of hospitalization owing to asthma.) This was a student game. His game not funded by academia was Flower.
His thesis topic was flOw, and it deals with flow in a game: http://www.jenovachen.com/flowingames/flowing.htm which is a beautiful game. The goal is ultimately to evolve, but the character animation etc. is reminiscent of his most famous game, Journey.
TLDR; Chen presents himself as an “Expert in Emotional Game Design.” He is more interested in inciting emotions than any other aspect of gameplay.