In the April 2003 Issue of ['Game Developer Magazine"], John Gilles and Chris Klug wrote an article entitled "The Emotional Heart of Art Direction." They were of course talking about creating ComputerGame art, but their principle speaks to something in the game designer as well. They were also talking about getting cohesion out of a large art team. But choosing a uniting principle can help organize all the voices in game designer's head as well. And at some point, most games have some sort of art; it helps if it fits with the game.

Emotional Heart can also be known as 'tone.' Most of the examples from the article come from movies: Star Wars (belief in yourself can overcome all obstacles); The Matrix (you are what you believe yourself to be); Blade Runner (all life is sacred, whether born of woman or manufactured); Unforgiven (rational violence leads to irrational violence); and The Lord of the Rings (even the smallest person can make a difference)." Such ideas would make lofty goals in the current state of GameDesign; an easier mark might be one of the FourteenFormsOfFun or PlayerExperiences.

In art, the emotional heart is an image - perhaps an obvious choice for artists. The point of this image is to evoke a feeling; the same feeling that the images in the product should evoke. A consistent vision is good for a game, but perhaps a slight focus shift would be appropriate. Artists are creating images; we are creating experiences. What we really want to know what the game will feel like when we play, what kind of experience it will create. When you have an idea for a game, you should have some idea of what it's experience will be like when it is done. Use an image if you need to. Use this vision as a guiding principle: when in doubt, take the path that reinforces the experience. If no paths do, find a new one; if something detracts from the experience, look for ways to get rid of it.

Probably related to ThematicDesign.