There’s a philosphy in the fiction writing industry that goes something like this: To be a great writer, one must read as many books as possible, from as many different genres as possible. Even though one may write books from a single genre, by consuming books from every other genre, one gains a broader perspective of what constitutes great writing.
The exact same philosophy applies to game design as well.
The best game design comes from designers who play lots and lots of different types of games. Of course, as gamers, we all have our favorite themes, mechanics, and weights. But that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of branching out from your wheelhouse.
For example, if you tend to play super heavy worker placement games, then give a lighter one a try. Or, branch out of the worker placement genre and try something completely different.
On a bigger scale, there is, of course, the somewhat beaten-to-death dichotomy of ‘Ameritrash’ games and ‘Euro’ games. I’m not going to go into detail about the differences between these two types of games, but if you don’t know, there’s a pretty good article by iSlaytheDragon as well as several forum discussions on boardgamegeek that can shed some light. Even if you consider yourself a total Eurogamer or a total Ameritrash gamer, I’d challenge you to give the other side a go. Ask around for the best gateway games of a specific genre, and try one out! You might just surprise yourself at how much you enjoy something you thought you’d never like. And (important for game designers), it might just spark some inspiration. The best games are the ones that are innovative. And it’s hard to be innovative when all you play is the same game, over and over and over. So keep an open mind. Branch out. And keep trying new things. There are too many great games out there to force yourself into a box.
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,