Level Design Lesson: To the Right, Hold on Tight – Response – AJT

Level Design Lesson: To the Right, Hold on Tight was a fun, nostalgic read (having grown up in the 80s with the original Nintendo); and also affirmed for me an ongoing interest in the relationships between game design and theatre and performance design.

The author correctly affirms the tedious nature of drawn out play tutorials while celebrating the potential of a game to teach its player how to participate through play itself. As a theatre maker/designer/director, this is a conversation that I often have with my colleagues. In theatre, there is generally no means of providing an instructional prologue on how to “read” the performance, rather the performance itself must invite the audience member into the world and delicately introduce them to the performance dramaturgy and vocabulary.

I am of late exploring ways in which performance can become less passive and more active/participatory – more like game-play, and so this essay proved valuable in its positing of design as a means of inviting (“the A button big and bright and concave”), of cultivating observation (“note how long this mushroom’s path to Mario is: the player is given the opportunity to observe the mushroom), and of training (the staged jumps at the top of the staircases – one without a pit and one with).

I valued, too, the essay’s reminder that all design is informed by “an understanding and anticipation of how…a thing will be used.” This is useful in my own primary artistic practice, but also as I wade further into these class experiments in game design – both in a continued excavating of the potential shared theories of game design and theatre/performance,and as a means of expanding my practice into the medium of game design itself.