The Importance of a Focus Statement

by Darius Kazemi on March 16, 2006

in Uncategorized

Gamasutra has a fantastic article about a talk that Harvey Smith gave at SXSW called Counter-Intuitive Creative Design. The best bit?

“The first thing you do is write your values on the wall,” Smith states. “Here’s what we’re into. ‘We don’t teach the player by death.‘ At Midway Studios Austin, we have this big bible of high concepts. We have literally written down our values, and when designers are in arguments, we often tell them, ‘Is there a principle you can fall back on? You guys are arguing this one very specific point, but is there a larger principle at work here? ‘”

This relates specifically to my favorite idea espoused in Richard Rouse III’s Game Design: Theory and Practice: whenever you start a project, you need a focus statement. It’s a short paragraph, maybe 3 sentences, that explains everything that is essential about your game. In other words, if you modified that paragraph in any way, it would be a completely different game. At my mythical future game company, this focus statement will be printed out on one of those large banners and hung in an appropriate portion of the office. This way, when the designers are having an argument, I can walk in, point to the giant banner, and effectively end the argument. Much like what Harvey Smith is talking about.

{ 1 comment }

Patrick Dugan March 18, 2006 at 2:48 am

I was going to have a brief bit of text on my company website, describing the projects in the pipeline and inviting the visitor to invesitage features, screenshots ect. I’m thinking writing of this sort would be ideal for that, as it lets prospective collaborators, current collaborators, press, potential players ect. know just what is is we’re doing and why its unique.

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