3 thoughts on “A fundamental of creativity”

  1. Creativity in the culinary world is quite different from creativity in the computer game world.

    In 30+ years, I’ve met any number of “game designers” who are convinced that they have the a truly different and ground-breaking product. In other words, they are selling themselves as pioneers on the Blue Ocean.

    In almost every case, when I examined their product in more detail, I discovered a variety of flaws and drawbacks that could have been avoided if they were more familiar with past games – from the German “Kriegspiels” of the early 1800s, to H.G.Well’s “Little Wars,” Donald Featherstone’s books, the many paper games (both wargames, CCGs and RPGs) from the late 1960’s through the late 1980’s, and of course the many computer games from that point until now.

    In my experience creativity in game design is alchemy – you mix a little or this, a little of that, add a few dashes of novelty, and you have a potential new title. I have seen fabulously creative products, and they were invariably products of the above alchemy. The designer(s) could point to features that had been successful, and what new or semi-new ingredients they had added.

    Deliberately ignoring past experience, especially in a field with generations of hard-won experience, is like deliberately seeking a lobotomy for the sake of creativity.

    Furthermore, part of that past experience is understanding what did and did not appeal to customers, and why. A good game designer must ALWAYS have a potential audience in mind for each product. Otherwise, multi-person, multi-month (or multi-year) development teams can burn money to build a game with an audience of one – the original game designer!

    In short, I do not believe Chef Ferran Adria’s example is that useful in the world of computer games.

    – Arnold Hendrick


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