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  • Fintan Davies

My response to a Game Design Brief

Updated: Nov 9

This week, during a lesson about game mechanics, I was given my Game Design Brief. I have to design a game that is both big in scale and be about heroism and weakness.

Most big games are about heroism and weakness but the main selling feature about these games like Call of Duty, FIFA and Super Smash Bros. is violence and competition.

My response towards this brief is to design a game without violence and competition. I want my game to be wholesome and fun.

Fig. 01: My screenshot (Animal Crossing: New Horizons, 2020)


I want to design a big game without violence and competition because its currently not the norm for triple-A games and the sales numbers of Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo EDP, 2020) (Fig. 01) this year prove to me that there is an audience out there that want to play big wholesome games.

Philips (2020) reported on Animal Crossing: New Horizons', a game without violence and competition, sales numbers. It sold 22.4m units in less in four months after it released in April this year.

What I find significant in that report is Animal Crossing: New Crossing outsold the lifetime sales of other popular violent games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Bandai Namco Studios, 2018), Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD, 2017) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD, 2017).

What will be particularly helpful for me in terms of nailing down the narrative and gameplay mechanics will be the company Wholesome Games (2020). Wholesome Games’ mission statement is to curate ‘cute, friendly, compassionate, cosy #videogames’.

Wholesome Games’ Twitter account will have a treasure trove of these kind of games and I intend to go through them this coming week and see what aspects of them I can expand upon for a big game.

Fig. 02: My screenshot (Rey - The Last Jedi, 2020)


In terms of giving my hero a weakness, I’m starting by looking into Rey (Fig. 02), the main character from the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens/Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi/Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, 2015/2017/2019)

The online discourse around Rey as a character since (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 2015) has brought to light how important it is for a hero to have flaws in order to be relatable to the audience.

What happened with Rey is that the term Mary Sue came to define her. A Mary Sue according to (Thor Skywalker, 2018, 08:54- 09:08), is a character inserted into a story who is perfect for the sake of being perfect.

The problem with a Mary Sue character is that it’s very hard to relate to them since they have little to no flaws to deal with throughout the narrative.

MauLer (Bite-Sized MauLer, 2018, 00:05-00:13) mentions that her only flaws are that ‘she wants to find people to love and give her guidance’ and ‘she believes in the good of people even if they are evil.’

Mauler even lists flaws that Rey doesn’t have (Bite-Sized MauLer, 2018, 00:14-00:48) by showing other characters’ flaws. A few examples are James Bond’s womanising (Casino Royale, 2006), Homer Simpson’s stupidity (The Simpsons, 1989-2020), Captain America’s self-righteousness (Captain America: Civil War, 2016) Iron Man’s narcissism (Captain America: Civil War, 2016) and Alan Turing’s superiority complex (The Imitation Game, 2014)

When I’m in the process of creating my hero, I have to take into account that having flaws that he/she has to overcome/deal with will make my character relatable.

I’m thinking about the online discourse surrounding Rey now as a way to remind myself to not fall into the trap of making my hero flawless and not giving him/her room to grow.

Reference list

Computer games


Bandai Namco Studios (2018) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate [video game]. Nintendo. Available at: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Super-Smash-Bros-Ultimate-1395713.html (Accessed: 1 November 2020).


Nintendo EPD (2017) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [video game]. Nintendo. Available at: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/The-Legend-of-Zelda-Breath-of-the-Wild-1173609.html (Accessed: 1 November 2020).


Nintendo EPD (2017) Super Mario Odyssey [video game]. Nintendo. Available at: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Super-Mario-Odyssey-1173332.html (Accessed: 1 November 2020).


Nintendo EPD (2020) Animal Crossing: New Horizons [video game]. Nintendo. Available at: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Animal-Crossing-New-Horizons-1438623.html (Accessed: 1 November 2020).


Films

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Directed by A. Russo and J. Russo. [Feature film]. USA: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Casino Royale (2006) Directed by M. Campbell. [Feature film]. UK: Sony Pictures Releasing.

The Imitation Game (2014) Directed by M. Tyldum. [Feature film]. UK: StudioCanal.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) Directed by J.J. Abrams. [Feature film]. USA: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) Directed by R. Johnson. [Feature film]. USA: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Directed by J.J. Abrams. [Feature film]. USA: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Online video sharing platforms

Bite-Sized MauLer (2018) REY IS A MARY SUE MauLer - Star Wars: The Last Jedi. 12 December. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2sar9BAyvU (Accessed: 1 November 2020).

Thor Skywalker (2018) Rey and the sad devolution of the female character. 25 October. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEjkWb2mqdE (Accessed: 1 November 2020).

Screenshots

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020) [Screenshot] Available at: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Animal-Crossing-New-Horizons-1438623.html (Accessed 1 November 2020).

Rey – The Last Jedi (2018) [Screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2sar9BAyvU (Accessed 1 November 2020).

TV Show

The Simpsons (1989-2020) Fox.

Twitter

Wholesome Games. [@_wholesomegames] (2020) Wholesome Games Homepage [Twitter]. Available at: https://twitter.com/_wholesomegames (Accessed: 31 October 2020).

Web page with an individual author

Philips, T. (2020) The latest Animal Crossing: New Horizons sales are just astonishing. Available at: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2020-08-06-the-latest-animal-crossing-new-horizons-sales-are-just-astonishing (Accessed: 31 October 2020).

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© 2020 by FINTAN DAVIES.