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My Thesis Question

Game design is increasingly becoming data oriented. Instead of faithfully following the vision of a lead game designer or a creative director from the initialisation of the project to the release of the product, the creative process is mainly guided by the data collected from the release of unfinished products. This new situation is highly controversial, since many game makers support the idea that data is limiting, cold and stands right opposite to creativity and artistic value. As Oscar Wilde puts it, “A true artist takes no notice whatsoever of the public. The public to him are non-existent,” and “The artist should never try to be popular. Rather the public should be more artistic.” However, games do not exist without their players. Monetising games and the technological developments in networks and personal devices allowed for analytics to enter and dominate the game industry. The basic maths is: the more players you acquire, the more you profit you gain. This is valid not only for the free-to-play genre, but also for the premium games as well.

I think that data-driven design is not only for making money of games, but also for communicating/interacting with as many people as possible. I believe, it is in the core of design, since any product design is made for people to engage with. The best way to determine if your creation is engaging is to try it out with the users. If your game is not engaging people will not play it, and if a game is not being played, it has no value. There is no game without players.

Casual mobile game and big (AAA) studios are aware of the fact that they will not survive without solid data analysis, but it appears to me that artistic, indie game makers are missing on this evolution, and I am afraid that this will be the end of the indie.

In order to learn more and reflect on this subject, I decided to search the answer of this question for my thesis:


How to utilise data-driven design to create quality games with artistic value

Break Down

Data-driven game design

  • What is data-driven game design?

  • How to collect-analyse-utilise data for games

  • What are the key metrics?

  • What are the alternative approaches other than data-driven in current game design practice?

  • Why data-driven design is currently the preferred approach within the industry?


  • What is a quality game?

  • What aspects determine a game's quality?

  • Why is it necessary to create games with the highest quality?


  • Which games are considered as a work of art?

  • Why should games have artistic value?

  • How to make art games

Oscar Wilde also said, "The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates." Maybe the true products of creativity are the results of critical analysis and fine-tuning of our raw, imaginative ideas.

Recent strategies favour rapid exploration of new ideas and follow only the most successful ones . Giving at most 2-3 months development periods for each project, releasing 4-6 applications per year and follow up/iterate onwards only the ones which are truly promising based on the collected data.

Alterations to the design based on:

  • Sales

  • IAPs

  • User data

  • Gameplay data

  • Playing habits

  • Mods

  • Social Networks

Statisical Analysis for Video Games:

  • Data Mining

  • Exploratory Data Analysis

  • Clustering

  • Classification

  • Graph Mining

Considered text for research:

Mobile & Social Game Design - Monetization Methods and Mechanics by Tim Fields

Video Game Design - Principles and Practices from Ground Up by Michael Salmond

Free 2 Play - Making Money From Games You Give Away by Will Luton

Source of Oscar Wilde Quotes:


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