Critical Thinking in Video Game Development

Critical thinking, video games
Critical thinking is the basis for all sound decision making. It is objective thinking where one analyzes all factors from different angles, perspectives and viewpoints. It is the doorway through which one must enter, to step foot into the house of unbiased, nonjudgmental decision making and factual conclusions. Though we are human and always subject to error, critical thinking always causes us to greatly reduce our chance of error and usually come out on top. In situations where outcomes are unknown and varied, the critical thinker knows that he or she has made the best possible, educated choice, based on facts and a careful analysis of all known factors. Essentially critical thinking is the adhesive that binds together solid judgment, communication, and all things loosely or closely associated with human interaction or action. One area in which people may not immediately apply these concepts is video games, but critical thinking is essential in video game development.

Not all decisions require critical thinking and many can be decided upon using any one of the multitude of heuristic shortcuts. No deep level of thinking is required to decide whether one should stop at a red light or risk creating an auto accident or at the least receiving a ticket for failing to observe the traffic laws when out on a leisure drive. However, the decision becomes complicated when there is a pregnant woman, a sick elderly person or an injured individual, needing immediate medical attention, lying in the back seat. The driver has to carefully weigh the pros and cons of abiding by traffic regulations versus the health of the passenger in the seat and the possibility of crashing, and neither one of them making it to a hospital. Not all critical decisions are this drastic, requiring one to consider life and death, but this examples was used to illustrate the significance of critical thinking.

Video games are steeped in ethical controversy, especially when it comes to excessive violence, adult themes, stereotyping and lack of physical activity. While it is true that there are plenty of games that do much to improve the general perception of electronic games, the games that shine a negative light on the industry and have mature ratings are reportedly the most fun and produce the most revenue.  I define critical thinking as objective thinking where one analyzes factors from different angles, perspectives and viewpoints in an attempt to make the best educated decision possible without being judgmental or biased. As a game designer, I will constantly be bombarded with ethical decisions about the content put into games I help develop. I know the values that were instilled in me as a child and what I understand as being appropriate, but industry standards may go against my views. It will be at these times when I will need to carefully consider what it is that I am being asked to create and what I feel is right for the intended audience of the content. I will have to use absolute and abstract thinking to understand literal consequences and produce creative solutions that satisfy me, my team members, my bosses and the specific audience for which games are produced. I must also understand that some decisions may be detrimental to my job and that there will be times when specific types of communication will be necessary to keep my job, express my concerns and create the best game content possible.

By: Kyle Brooks

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