Third Generation

What’s wrong with you guys? How we have a quick and dirty Blog and still dead trousers (for all non-germans, this doesn’t make any sense but I couldn’t resist). Go on an Blog already!

I just saw this on Kotaku. Someone is writing a “Game Journal” of the Zelda Series. He is blogging exactly what happens as he plays every Zelda game. I did almost the same (I skipped Zelda II and the portables and didn’t blog about it) and I found it interesting that it has inspired him to similar thougts about hold-school game design as me.

Recently, some guy on Kotaku initiated a game club – a book club but for games. Players get together, decide on a game, play it simultaniously and discuss it afterwards. I find this game journal idea very interesting. Check this guy out! Seeing players exibit this level of details in their reflections about a game made me think.

Games aren’t really made for this. Yet, they should be. Thinking further I divided game history into generations.
Generation 1 are the old games like Pac Man or Tetris. There were no genres, games were considered complicated toys. There were no “gamers”. On the other hand, people who paid for game development didn’t really care about the content. The game designers were the programmers and they had no clue what they were doing but they were free to experiment. They just hacked away until something cool came out. There was not even real play testing. The games vary between brilliant and utterly rubbish. It’s difficult to analyse those games because most of the game experience was created by accident and heavily limited by the technology. There is rarely an intention behind it.

Generation 2 is what we just went trough. People relized that you can do money with games and started milking them for what it’s worth. Games are not just toys but rather entertaiment for the young. A lot of money is being put into games and so there is huge control about the content of the game. However, key factors which decide on the content are financial. We have a lot of sequels. Very well defined genres and stereotypes. Almost no new developments. Game Designers are programmers, business people and guys from other industries (movies). Because of all the money, there is a rise of the story content in games so high quality assets like FMV cutscenes can be easily used – that way production value is easier demonstrated. It difficult to talk about those games because the reason for their existence is to sell and show off, not convey any kind of message or question. Just like candy is not really food. It’s hard to be a candy gourmet.

But now, at the end of generation 2, there is a well established community of “gamers” who really care a lot about the content of the game. Games also are starting to break through into mainstream. Finally, we have “pure” game designers doing their games – people who grew up plaing games. In generation 3, we need to add the audience as the key factor in the decisions about content. As people start appriciate game play, it need to be the at the top position within a budget. We need games, which offer unique gaming experiences. We need games people can talk about. On the other hand, we need to cut costs in development. Moving more to experimental visual styles and less emphasis on story is the way to do it.

Gen3 games are games like Wario Ware, Brain Age, Katamari Damashi, Shadow of the Colossus, Fahrenheit, REZ. Each of them is offering a totally different gaming expierience, innovative but refined (!!!) gameplay and often comes in a unique and effective visual style.

Recent Gen2 games is stuff like Twilight Princess, Final Fantasy 12, Gears of War. Awsome games but nothing more.

What do you think?

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

3 responses to “Third Generation”

  1. Yu-Chung Chen

    The game club thing is something I’d like to do, too. There’s something similar going on at NTSC-UK, called “re:play appreciate

  2. Yu-Chung Chen

    dead trousers? STFU… I was too busy sculpting soldiers. Mudbox rocks btw. And it uses quasi-modes a lot :)

  3. Daniel 'sirleto' Renkel

    dead trousers: as i told you allready, i completely forgot about the scrapbook. i’m deeply sorry. btw: i have only 1 more klausur to write on friday. friday the 13th by the way :-)

    now on topic:
    i think to split up the history in those 3 generations is perfect. probably one could try to find 2 additional generations to split up your first and your second in more precise defintions, but let’s simply call them 1a, 1b, 2a and 2b so that we can go on talking about generation 3, independant of the number of earlier generations.

    (i like the 3 because of sony announcing game3.0 – even if it’s more some kind of marketing babble about “web2.0 – but better”. the things they named exist and are worth looking at for next generation games. it’s pretty interesting but i think it’s only a sub-set of concepts that will be and can be done in/for what you call generation3.)

    so, again: i like what you said about generation 3. i think we are now at the point were generation3 games can be generated with more intentions in them, more than in/on any earlier generation.

    i think to explore what new games to create, what new concepts to use (gamedesigns, visual styles, delivery, audience, etc.) is pretty necessary – not only from a scientific or cultural point, but also from a sales-pov: to use/create concepts to stick out from the mainstream (the icky ooze flowing arround) so we’re able to sell games and make a living from it.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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