Here, Ben Norskov and I explore the challenges in designing games for people in different cultural contexts. How do we design a game for someone whose play culture we do not understand? How can an urban designer empathize with the concerns of a rural stakeholder? Empathy in design is the way forward, and here we share some of our successful design strategies while designing play experiences for a diverse global audience at Antidote Games.
Every culture has their own food, art, communication methods, and social norms. It also follows that each culture also has their own patterns of play and games, even if they are a minority voice and they have never been heard before. In addition, each culture should and will have its own methodologies for making games. Ignoring culture and assuming the manner in which your culture plays games is the only “correct” way to play games makes them a hostile and unwelcome space for new players and creators.
Believing that all people should play games the way you play games is a form of cultural imperialism. Imposing your game making process in place of other’s process is both patronizing and oppressive. There is a lot that can be learned from how games have been made, but there is very little reason to assume that that is the only way to ever make them.
At Antidote, the bulk of our work is making games for cultural contexts that we can’t fully understand. So, can we ever make a game for someone from a different culture?