Humane games


The cohort and I had an informal discussion on our Discord today about “tech for good”.

A non-exhaustive list of things that came up:

  • The Social Dilemma (Orlowski 2020)
  • Center for Humane Technology (Harris et al. 2018)
  • how much screen time?
  • examples in our own families of where social networks have been detrimental to mental health

I think this topic is extremely important for both UX designers and game designers alike, and Humane Tech encourages discourse and even provides some guidance on how to go about it.

This has urged me to reflect on which values I want to establish as a game designer, and one day as a studio. Tynan Sylvester even discusses values in his book:

This book has covered a lot of knowledge about being a game designer. Combine that knowledge with practice, and you'll develop skills. But I don't think knowledge and skills are all that's needed for exemplary game design. I think that to do this really well, we must also have values.

(Sylvester 2013)

I iterate the values in the book here, and they are specifically applicable to game designers:

  • Openness: means respectfully accepting ideas with which you disagree.
  • Candor: too much agreement kills a game.
  • Humility: understand how little we can really understand of what we’re doing.
  • Hunger: once you’ve achieved success, you don’t stop. You’re in it for the work.

I’ve also come up with a few of my own, and have dedicated a page to it. I’m going to be mindful of my actions and products as a game designer, and always ask if I’m doing the right thing, and whether my output aligns with my values.

Also, my values will also influence my learning. For example, candor will bring disparate viewpoints out into the open (which is educational), and it will also determine what I don’t learn (e.g. shun learning about applying the “bad bits” of behavioural psychology as I have no intention of keeping folks hooked on my game unnecessarily, because of my “do no harm” value.)

I’ll organise a group discussion with my cohort and report back here with a follow-up reflection.


  1. ORLOWSKI, Jeff. 2020. “The Social Dilemma” [docudrama]. Available at: [accessed 29 Oct 2020].
  2. HARRIS, Tristan, Aza RASKIN and Randima FERNANDO. 2018. “Center for Humane Technology.” Center for Humane Technology. Available at: [accessed 29 Oct 2020].
  3. SYLVESTER, Tynan. 2013. Designing Games: a Guide to Engineering Experiences. First edition. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.

This post is part of my critical reflective journal.

This post was written during week 6 of the module Development Practice.

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