Turning the Ordinary into Extraordinary Game Designs: Guest Blog by Brad Furminger

Game Designers are constantly working on the next big idea. But where can you draw your inspiration that will lead to your next great game? Maybe the best place to start is right under your nose.


Look around and you’ll find lots of games that are inspired by what we see every day. Games like Diner Dash have the player rushing about as they try to juggle customers and build a small culinary empire. The classic Paperboy pit the player against the common dangers of suburban living as they deliver the daily news to their subscribers.



What do you do every day that could produce interesting gameplay? Packing a lunch could inspire an alignment-style game reminiscent of Tetris or Shop Mania. Catching the bus to school could make you think of designing a Bus Simulator or Transit Tycoon.


But, don’t feel like you have to focus on the direct connections. Could that bus trip be more exciting if it were a high stakes race against other public transit? Maybe making the bed could conjure images of smoothing out a relentless army of wrinkles, a la Whack-a-Mole, or hunting dust bunnies in an under-bed safari.


Plenty of unusual game ideas have been inspired by ordinary objects. Dreamcast’s cult classic Toy Commander pitted the player against countless challenges that needed to be overcome by directing various types of toys about the house. Katamari Damacy required the player to roll an ever-expanding ball, clumping up objects from as small as a paperclip to eventually as large as an entire planet. And the upcoming Electronic Arts game Unravel features a playable character made from yarn.


Even legendary Designer Shigeru Miyamoto revealed the inspiration for his Pikmin series of games struck while working in his garden – one of his favourite hobbies.


So next time you’re feeling stuck for new ideas or caught in a rut of tropes and stereotypes of a science-fiction universe, unplug from your console or your computer and take a casual look at your surroundings. The next must-play game could be sitting in front of you.



Brad Furminger is an instructor in Video Game Design and Production at the Toronto Film School. To learn more about the Toronto Film School and its programs, visit www.torontofilmschool.ca


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