Friday, September 11, 2009


Brainstorming is the name I have chosen to use to describe techniques aimed at generating new ideas (e.g. game concepts, features, game mechanics, play mechanics, etc.) or solving design problems (e.g. imbalances, loopholes, control schemes, etc.) through spontaneity. As a game design tool, brainstorming is not isolated to the beginning of the game design process but recurs throughout the entire process. While these techniques can sometimes seem a waste of time and non-organic, their primary advantage comes from structuring ideation and problem-solving (in a group or alone), which can save a game designer(s) a lot of time and energy. In general, brainstorming is meant to:
·       Escape old convictions and assumptions.
·       Find new and unique solutions.

To use brainstorming effectively, there are several questions that you should ask yourself  before using it as a tool.

(1) How innovative do the results need to be?
If not a game designer can better use a different set of design tools (i.e. generative research, patterns, game taxonomy, etc.).

Is the brainstorm about new ideas or solutions to problems? 
If the brainstorming is about new ideas then the techniques chosen should allow for a blue sky approach to creating the new ideas. If however brainstorming is aimed at solving design problems, then it may be best to look for elegant solutions (a solutions that uses existing design choices or implementations) rather than completely new solutions. Elegant solutions are especially important in the tuning phase of game design. 

(2) For example you may want to use brainstorming to create ideas for:
·       Game Concepts
·       Game Mechanics
·       Play Mechanics
·       Game-play experience
·       Game Features (i.e. units, weapons, power-ups, etc.)

And if you are also responsible for other game related tasks:
·       Storylines
·       Theme
·       Etc.

On the other hand you may wish to use brainstorming for:
·       Fixing game-play issues discovered through tools such as play-testing, game design rules and patterns.
·       Balancing the game and play mechanics

(3) How much time do you have for coming up with an idea or solution?
Determining this will help you choose a brainstorming technique. For example, group brainstorms can be more time consuming to organize, and more elaborate techniques may be over kill in some circumstances.

Generally speaking brainstorming is easy to scale to an individual or groups, made formal or informal, be structured or unstructured. And is characterized by the following basic precepts:
  • Stating the purpose
  • No Criticism
  • Sessions with Time Constraints
  • Quantity over quality
  • Keep a record of ideas
Brainstorming methods usually include new rules to the basic precepts, processes, role-playing, or ways keep ideas recorded.

  Brainstorming in Game Design Tools / Game Design / Micah Hrehovcsik (mmhrehovcsik)