Fail Faster

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One of the most important ideas of game design is the concept of failing faster. At a first glance, this “fail faster” term might seem a bit counterintuitive or pessimistic, but it’s an important lesson that I’ve had experience with this semester.

Throughout my time at RIT I’ve learned the importance of sharing ideas with others, creating early prototypes of those ideas, and playtesting them early on in order to find out what works and what doesn’t. This is the core of what failing faster is all about. As game designers, we’re all going to make mistakes or have ideas that sound great at first but fall apart the more that we think of them. By exposing these early ideas to others and testing them before they are fully formed, we are able to make these mistakes earlier on during development where it’s easier to fix them or change the core of the idea.

I’ve been taking Game Design and Development 2 this semester and I feel like this class is a great example of where this concept can be put into place. This course puts you into a group of 5 students, and your group is tasked with creating a game every 5 weeks, for a total of 3 games at the end of the semester. After a week of ideation and planning out the game, we have an in class work day and an in class play test each week, which forces us to make an early prototype of our idea within the first week. Having these small sprints of game development where we are constantly prototyping and iterating on these prototypes has resulted in a lot of problems and mistakes, but these were all made early on and we were able to make better games as a result of knowing about them and fixing them.

Now that I’ve become more familiar with this concept, it’s made me realize one of my favorite things about RIT; it’s easy to fail, but it’s easy to fix those failures. There are so many resources on campus where you can share your ideas or get people to playtest your ideas. Going to groups such as Crash Test (a student group about playtesting board games), talking to people in the labs, or even just getting a group of friends together is really easy and gets you a lot of constructive feedback. Of course there’s also your professors and the advice that they can give which helps to point you in the right direction.

No idea is ever going to be perfect when you come up with it, and no game will ever be amazing in its first build. But that’s ok. Game design isn’t about being perfect at the start, but it’s about realizing your mistakes and correcting them. Even if a project that you work on ends up being a failure in the end, you have lessons that you learn from that which you can carry over into your next project. Fail faster. Realize the mistakes that you’re making or the things that don’t work early on, fix them, and you’ll come out with better games in the end.