Ch.3 The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell

Art of game design

buy here: 

I chose to study this book because it is the bible of game designers, who are in turn the absolute lords and masters of user motivation an engagement. Educators can certainly learn a lot from them

CHAPTER 3: The lens of the venue

In this chapter you will learn: 

  • What a venue is 
  • Why it is crucial to take the venue into consideration while designing a game.


  • It is a common mistake among game designers to focus too much on the platforms (PC vs. Console vs. Tablet vs Mobile). It is important to think also about the place where the gamer’s experience will take place.
  • Venue is the place in which we use our devices, like a desk in an office, the living room or the subway.  The venues in which an experience takes place will greatly influence, even define, the experience. 
  • Venues can be private, public or both

Private Venues

  • Gameplay is often aided by privacy. To take the risk of immersing yourself in a fantasy world, we like to the in a safe place, either alone or surrounded by people we know and trust. 

The hearth

  • The hearth is the place in the home where humans naturally tended fire.  Think of the living room of a home, in which the TV has substituted the fire.
  • Gaming experiences that seem to work well in the hearth let people play together or are fun to watch.  For example: Nintendo WII and games that involve dancing and singing.
  • GOLDEN NUGGET HERE: For a game to  work in the hearth it has be  playable by all the people in the hearth OR fun to watch.  Why would it be different for a learning experience?

 The workbench

  • Desks, sewing machines, and actual benches are such places. They are designed for us to do intense, difficult work and they tend to be solitary and messy.
  • It is interesting to note the difference between workbench and hearth games:
  • World of Warcraft, Starcraft, are examples of  workbench  games, and they tend to last long and be intense. They are not usually played with family members but with virtual communities instead. 

the reading nook 

  • A reading nook can be the bedroom, a couch, or a quiet room with a comfortable chair away from the TV
  • Most people prefer not to read in the hearth because it is messy and it is very easy to get interrupted. The workbench (i.e desk) is not preferable either: although it is private and quiet, it is not usually very comfortable.
  • GOLDEN NUGGET: The workbench is a very “lean forward” place, whereas reading is more of a “lean back” activity. 
  • Pc gaming and game consoles are not good fits for the reading nook, but games for the IPAD are perfect for it. Games that succeed on tablets are easier, simpler and more relaxing than those that succeed on game consoles or on PC. 


Public venues

  • The theater, the arena, the museum

Little  video gaming going on here…


Half Private/Half Public venues

The flexibility of these places, in the boundary between public and private is what makes them interesting and important.

The gaming table

Games that are played around a table produce a special face to face intimacy between the players who sit like’ gods around the toy world. ‘ Digital games are still  rare on the gamin table (NR I believe this is going to chance very very soon)

The playground.

Rugged and mobile technology will likely bring more interest from game designers to the outdoor places where children play;


Sudoku, crossword puzzles and word find games are pay anywhere games.

The smartphone has changed this venue forever.

Their distinct qualities are defined by their interruptibility and they small screen size.

GOLDEN NUGGET FOR DIGITAL LEARNING : Games that work well in this venue are playable in tiny bites and have very simple interfaces and stories.


CONCLUSION: The places where we play exert tremendous influence on the design of our games. It is important to ask the following questions

  • What type of venue best suits the game i’m trying to create?
  • Does my venue have special properties that will influence my game
  • What elements of my game are in harmony with my venue?