Preface to The Design of a Fine Game

Paraphrased from Oscar Wilde's preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
David Ethan Kennerly, March 9, 2003

The game designer is the creator of fun activities.

To reveal the game and conceal the designer is game design's aim.

The presenter is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of fun activities.

The highest and lowest form of presentation is a mode of autoludography.

Those who find vulgarity in fun activies are corrupt without being childlike.

This is a fault.

Those who find meaning in fun activities are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom fun activities mean only Fun.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral game.

Games are well designed, or badly designed. That is all.

The twentieth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a game.

The twentieth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a game.

The moral life of the player forms part of the subject-matter of the game designer, but the morality of game design consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No game designer desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No game designer has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in a game designer is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

No game designer is ever morbid. The game designer can express anything.

Strategy and rules are to the game designer instruments of a design.

Vice and virtue are to the game designer materials for a design.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the programmer. From the point of view of vision, the graphic artist's craft is the type. From the point of view of fun, the type of all the arts is the art of the game designer.

All games are at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the player, and not reality, that games really mirror.

Diversity of opinion about a game shows that the game is new, complex, and vital.

When reviewers disagree the game designer is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful product as long as it is not fun. The only execuse for making a useless product is that one has fun with it intensely.

All games are quite useless.


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