Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Art of Lean Game Design

One of my favorite books on game design is The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell.  As I was re-reading this week, I was struck by how similar Schell's game design tenants are to the principles of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

In the forward to Game Design, Schell posits that the only way to become a game designer is to design games that people really like and that some people may view this statement as a Catch-22:  "If only game designers can design games, and you can only become a game designer by designing games, how can anyone get started?"  Fortunately, Schell also gives us a way out.  Be a game designer, and create a game.  Any game.  Act like a game design and become one.

"[But] simply jotting down your game idea isn't enough," writes Schell.  "You must build your game, play it yourself, and let others play it.  When it doesn't satisfy (and it won't), you must change it.  And change it.  And change it again, dozens of times, until you've created a game that people actually enjoy playing."

If you change the words "game" to "product", "game designer" to "entrepreneur" and "play" to "use", you have the essence of how a lean startup should go about validating their product hypothesis though continuous iterative learning and customer testing.

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