We have various frameworks and processes that deal with the problem of designing interactive products and services in a customer-centric way: design thinking, user experience design, user-centric design, customer development etc.
The empirical game design framework is based on validating the design in practice. We define clear goals for the game and the solution to reach that goal emerges during the process. The practical work involves making and playtesting game prototypes based on the current vision of the game, called the game concept. Each play test attempts to validate the prototype against one facet of the goals we have set.
The goals specify the gameplay experience we strive for – in playtests we validate whether the current concept reaches those goals. This goal-oriented empiric validation process ensures that we have more knowledge to refine the game concept to better reach our goals after each iteration. This makes the framework empirical and well-suited for game design.
However, games are unique in terms of design: they pose a second-order design problem. On one hand the properties of a game that makes it great can only be assessed by playing the game. On the other hand the designer cannot directly influence the gameplay experience — she only has access to the mechanics and the interface of the game.
That is why we need a unique design framework for game design for effectively designing games. The empirical game design framework is my proposal for such a framework.