Brenda Brathwaite came to our IGDA chapter’s meeting yesterday and talked about the process behind building her game Train. Here’s a WSJ article about the game if you are unfamiliar. It was a great talk, wonderfully performed, and it really energized me about design again – not through high falutin’ look-at-this-art-I-made-aren’t-I-important? but through the pure attention to detail and meaning that is almost always lost when making a game for anyone other than yourself.

One of my fellow IGDAers (who will remain anonymous because I didn’t ask permission to blog about it) said that we [designers] are all on the hook now, that we can’t use our medium as an excuse to make meaningless works. But in retrospect, I disagree. Brenda’s game is important, but it isn’t the first game to sacrifice fun for message. There were player-made D&D modules that did this. Even in the digital age, we have games like September 12th. That doesn’t make Train any less important. Train is just another brilliant salvo in the battle to legitimize our medium.

She didn’t change the role of a designer – she just reminded us what is possible.

If you have the opportunity to see her talk, I would recommend taking the time to go.