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Who is in control?

by Tanner Higgin

McMillen explains how good design does not require explicit instruction; rather, players learn from the game implicitly through environmental design as well as subtle ramping in challenge. Players are forced to adapt and discover new ways to solve puzzles or challenges. It's a simple and elegant explanation of one of the key tenets of game studies: art, mechanics, and the work of the designer are in constant negotiation with player activity. As this video shows, it's best to complicate the dominant narratives of player freedom and player control associated with games. While players are meant to feel like they are free and making discoveries, they are also following a path meticulously crafted by the designer. From the perspective of education and game-based learning, this video also shows us how players learn within games primarily through experimentation and failure. Instead of needing to get it exactly right the first time, games encourage players to "fail forward" by testing a game system's boundaries, figuring the system out, and finding the most successful path forward.

Indie Game: The Movie - Edmund McMillen Discusses Game Design Principles

In this clip from Indie Game: The Movie (, Edmund McMillen, co-designer of Super Meat Boy, explains some key principles of game design.

from Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
Creator: James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot
Distributor: Blinkworks and
Posted by Tanner Higgin