teaching machines

HNRS 304.503 Lecture 6 – Themeblitzing


  • Due date for class homework?
  • Achievements (+Witness)
  • Themeblitzing


Pair up. On paper, draw or describe a character in some situation appropriate for an opening scene of a game. (What’s appropriate for an opening scene?) Depict the present situation only.


  • “Some of the most disappointing games I’ve played are the ones that poorly expressed or poorly kept to their theme.”
  • “What if you can’t decide on one theme? Can a game do well with more than one main theme? Or does that mean you just haven’t found the right theme?”
  • “It seems like the themes the author chooses would be obvious, but he seems to do a lot of research to get to them.”
  • “When you have a strong unifying theme, it makes it easier for everyone on the team to make useful contributions.”
  • “The idea of resonance is important, I think, but I feel fantasy can’t be resonated/resonate.”
  • “Themes are really important but they seems sometimes to be overly complicated.”
  • “A ‘truth-based’ theme can take the theme from good to great, especially with deep resonance, but there doesn’t seem to be a good way to tell that you even have one.”

Exchange 1

  1. Give your sketch to another group.
  2. Take another group’s sketch. Swapping is fine, shuffling otherwise is fine. Don’t exchange more than the piece of paper.
  3. Fit a theme to the game for which this situation is the start.
  4. Draft a list of specific ideas for how this theme can be reinforced throughout the game. Bear in mind that the theme can manifest itself in all sorts of ways.
  5. No sleeping!

Exchange 2

Repeat steps above with a different group, exchanging the sketch you currently possess.


Let’s visit each group and hear the two themes for their situation.


  • Theme reinforced with feelies: DeadlineSuspended
  • Walt Disney: “I am interested in entertaining people, in bringing pleasure, especially laughter, to others, rather than being concerned with ‘expressing’ myself with obscure creative impressions.” Schell, second to last paragraph of chapter 5, page 56.


Can’t make sense of it
War. Hunger. Pain. Pop music
We’ve too many themes


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