Today Paul posted an interesting read on the internal R&D folder, which was the lead designer of League of Legends talking about some of their design lessons. It was an excellent read (find it here), lessons that I feel like I have learned through experience of my own or of those I work with, and certainly some of the points he makes are ones that Wizards strives to enact in its design and its production. An even more interesting read, if only because I see it so much on our own community site and am now coming to understand it, are the comments on his post by players who attempt to refute his points.
First off, it’s pretty goddamn difficult to use one’s own motivations and reasoning to refute the time-tested, profit-driven experience of a company. They are not going to make decisions that sabotage them financially, and a regular human might because regular humans (a) sometimes make bad choices and (b) often do not understand their true preferences. Of course, because a lot of regular humans don’t understand this about themselves, they take any opportunity they can to point out the error in reasoning of designers who are trying to design fun-for-all (or fun-for-target-audience, sometimes) and end up being very frustrating for designers like me to listen to.
I applaud Zileas’s straightforwardness and honesty about game design, but since game design is essentially psychological engineering for activities, it makes sense that those who are the intended target of the engineering would refuse to believe in its ability to influence them. We humans can be pretty dogged about what’s “not for me,” and extend it quite easily to “therefore, not for anyone.”