The games I’d make

My team just finished hitting an intense deadline at the end of June, and I’m finally winding back down to a normal pace. As such, I’ve been thinking a lot about games and that question that every game designer gets asked…

“If you could make any game you wanted, what would it be?”

I’ve been asked that a fair amount recently, and I’ve always responded with “I have to think about it,” not as a dodge but just because I really did have to think about it. I spent the better part of 2 months pondering the matter, and have finally come up with my response.

If I could make any game I wanted, I would make another platformer that used the gamecube kongas as a controller.

Wait wait, before you say I’m crazy, let me explain a couple of things. First is my unusual relationship with Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, from whence this inspiration is derived. When that game came out, it was during a period of my life where I was in a lot of pain and no one knew what the hell was wrong with me. It had come to the point where I could not manipulate a video game controller for very long because it was too painful.

Thoughts of carpal tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis had been spinning around in my brain*, and I’d thought that there might come a time when I couldn’t play video games at all. It was incredibly depressing.

When DK:JB came out and I played it at a friend’s, amidst much laughter and hilarity, I found that using the kongas, as bizarre and silly at may have been, did not trigger pain like a normal controller, I imagine since there wasn’t as much fine motor manipulation involved. Needless to say, I got the game for myself and played the CRAP out of it. Over and over, collecting more and more bananas, getting more and more skilled at racking up combos and surprising myself to learn that you could get platinum medals on the levels.

That game has such a special place in my heart, purely from the fact that I could play it at the time.

The second factor is that I’ve figured out what stirs my passion the most about games, and it is unusual interfaces. Whenever I snoop around the indie game picks of the week, I’m always most drawn to the games with the weirdest, cleverest, or most experimental means of controlling the game.

This delight may tie as far back as high school, when a group of friends and I managed a 5-player-at-once game of Spyro the Dragon using a DDR pad.

So yeah, it may not have to be the kongas specifically, but maybe a platform adventure for, say, the Rock Band drums, or some other bizarre input device that was never intended for the type of game I intend to make. This is what I want to make!

“But Lisa, no one would play those games.”

Yeah, so? What of it? I’d play ’em, and I know like 3 people who would also play them. I can make a game for a 3 person audience if I want. So there.

*Eventually, after way too much money spent on medical testing, it was determined to be fibromyalgia, which is not progressive, and now I take pain-thwarting meds such that I can play games all day and all night once more.

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