Basic Introduction to Game Design

Conceptualization and Idea Generation

Cite this article as: Lennart Nacke. (October 20, 2014). Conceptualization and Idea Generation. The Acagamic. Retrieved January 23, 2021, from

Welcome to week six in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Make sure to read the syllabus and course information before you continue. In this post, we will discuss the conceptualization process in game design. This text follows closely from our textbook (Game Design Workshop, Chapter 6). After having discussed game systems, and the roles that skill, probability, and chance play in games, we are shifting our focus to the idea of concept generation. We need not define the act of gathering together game concepts as a fixed process. In fact, often, it is not. However, there are some methods and techniques that will help you become more structured in creating your game ideas.

Where do you get your game concepts from?

Similar to most creative processes, your game ideas can be inspired by anything and anyone around you. Ideas are everywhere. Being curious helps; so does writing things down. It is a good practice to carry a small notebook with you to jot down game design ideas (rough ones) as they come to you. You can always elaborate on them later, but you will be prone to forget if you do not record them. To help codify a more formal game conceptualization process, our textbook discusses five stages of creativity:

  1. Preparation. You study a topic or set of problems deeply and gain deep understanding  of your chosen area of interest.
  2. Incubation. You keep the subject matter in your mind for a while, but are not consciously working toward any particular idea.
  3. Insight. Your aha-moment, when your idea starts making sense and works itself into a concept.
  4. Evaluation. You evaluate your idea in terms of value of pursuit, that is to say, on the basis of originality, feasibility, and any potential market value.
  5. Elaboration. You formulate your idea completely and turn it into a solid concept. This is the hardest part of ideation.

The stages of this process are not always linear, and can be revisited in iterative cycles. The speed at which an idea turns into a concept depends on the person and any applicable environmental factors, such as the availability of informational resources or helpful colleagues. Also keep in mind that many game designers are inspired by other media as well as their environment. The things around you can trigger several iterations of the creative process to occur every day, and it is up to you to turn those ideas into realities. Continue reading