The Role of the Game Designer: LMG’s Second Presentation at the Bon Air Library

On October 15, 2023, Aaron Goodwine and Glenn Essex gave a presentation at the Bon Air branch of the Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) about the role of a game designer. This presentation was the second in a series presented by Louisville Makes Games (LMG) in collaboration with LFPL to introduce more people to game development.

Aaron and Glenn began by asking the question, “What does a game designer do?” The answer can vary based on the size of the studio and the scope of a project. A game designer may create design documents to help guide a team of programmers and artists in implementing the design, or they may work to implement designs themselves, either using code, or physical prototypes.

They then discussed the components that make up a game: The objective, the rules, and the mechanics. The objectives are what the player is trying to do in a game, the rules are the obstacles that restrict how the player can proceed and the mechanics are the means by which the player achieves the objective. For example, consider a running track. The goal is to reach the finish line, the rules are the lanes drawn onto the track, and the mechanics might be running, walking or jumping.

With the role of the game designer and the components of games defined, how does one actually start to design a game? Two possible approaches were presented: top-down and bottom-up design. Imagine the elements of a game arranged in a tower, where at the bottom are verbs that describe the most basic actions in a game, and at the top is the concept, encompassing the overall message or broad themes of a game.

A designer working from the top-down would begin with a concept or feeling they want to communicate to the player, then work their way down to find a design that best supports that vision. A designer working from the bottom-up would begin with the most basic interactions they want in their game, then work their way up to create a setting or theme that fits with those actions.

To put the knowledge presented to use, participants became game designers! The audience split into groups and grabbed bags filled with random game pieces. They were tasked with designing a tabletop game to a theme randomly chosen from audience-submitted words. The words drawn were: “weird”, “expansive”, and “intense”.

Afterward, teams were asked to describe the objectives, rules, and mechanics of their game, and whether they used a top-down or a bottom-up approach. A lot of really cool games emerged from this exercise, and the audience got a chance to put into practice the knowledge and techniques provided during the presentation.

The second presentation at Bon Air was a huge success, and I’d like to thank Aaron and Glenn for organizing such a valuable presentation, the Bon Air branch of the Louisville Free Public Library for hosting, and the audience for their participation.

If you’re interested in participating in future meetups and events be sure to join our meetup page for email updates!

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The Role of the Game Designer: LMG’s Second Presentation at the Bon Air Library

Aaron Goodwine and Glenn Essex

giving a presentation at the Bon Air Public Library in Louisville, KY about game design

Into the World of Video Game Creation: My Presentation at the Bon Air Library

On May 21st, I had the awesome opportunity to present at the Bon Air Library in Louisville, Kentucky representing Louisville Makes Games. The topic was one that I am truly passionate about: how to get started making video games. The audience consisted mainly of enthusiastic teens, accompanied by some equally curious parents. Together, we had an open discussion about how video games are made.

I kicked off the session by asking everyone to share their favorite video games and asked if they knew who created those games, many mentioned the names of game companies or publishers but I dug deeper to try to get folks to consider the individual people who create games either on small 1-2 person indie teams, or on large 3000 person teams like for Red Dead Redemption 2.

To demystify the process of making video games, I highlighted the various disciplines involved, extending beyond programming to encompass art, music, storytelling, sound design, and much more. The goal was to showcase the collaborative nature of game development and to inspire participants to explore the diverse array of skills required to bring their own game ideas to life.

Next we talked about tools such as game engines, and explained that each game engine is a tool box for making games and each includes a different number of tools, some smaller ones might be quicker to learn and get started while others might have a larger set of tools and be more capable once you take the time to learn a bunch of them.

I talked about how a major factor in making games is time, and putting in the effort to learn and teach yourself rather than try to use shortcuts. I mentioned the popular topic of AI like ChatGPT and how it can be a useful tool, but if you ask it to create code for your game without having at least a basic understanding of programming you will have a difficult time solving issues when AI gets things wrong. Like any tool, it can be useful to help but it is not a “do-it-all” solution.

The presentation at the Bon Air Library marked the first in our series of meetups organized as a partnership with Louisville Makes Games and the Louisville Free Public Library. The warm reception from the audience made it evident that this initiative would foster a vibrant community of aspiring game developers in Louisville. I am grateful to have played a part in sparking curiosity and igniting a passion for game creation among the attendees.

If you're interested in joining us for these gatherings and staying updated on all our free public events, be sure to join our group on for email updates!

View the full presentation slides here
Into the World of Video Game Creation: My Presentation at the Bon Air Library

Alex Bezuska giving a presentaion at Bon Air Library

Louisville, Kentucky

Locally Made Games at Louisville Arcade Expo!

The Louisville Arcade Expo (LAX) is just around the corner, and we at Louisville Makes Games couldn't be more excited to be a part of it! This year's event is taking place from Friday, March 10 to Sunday, March 12, 2023, and it promises to be a fantastic showcase of retro gaming and local game development talent.

One of the main draws of the Louisville Arcade Expo is the chance to play retro arcade, console, and computer games. Whether you're a die-hard fan of classic games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders, or you're more interested in retro PC games like Doom and Quake played on a LAN, there's something for everyone at this event.

But the fun doesn't stop there - Louisville Makes Games and other local game developers will be there too, showing off our latest game projects and giving attendees a chance to play them before they're released. It's a great opportunity to see what kind of creative talent is brewing right here in Kentucky, and to get a glimpse of what the future of gaming might look like.

Of course, attending the Louisville Arcade Expo isn't free - but it's definitely worth the price of admission. A weekend pass will set you back $65, while day rates range from $20 to $35 depending on which day you attend. Kids under 10 get in for free, so it's a great way to introduce your little ones to the world of retro gaming and game development.

We can't wait to see you at the Louisville Arcade Expo! Whether you're a die-hard gamer or you're just curious about the local game development scene, this event is not to be missed. See you there!

Get your tickets for LAX!
Locally Made Games at Louisville Arcade Expo!

Locally-made indie games

available for all ages to try out at LAX

Why Licenses Matter

When creating a game project, it can be tempting to use assets found online as a shortcut to creating original content. However, it is important to pay attention to the license associated with each asset to ensure that it can be used appropriately.

Understanding Creative Commons Zero and Other Licenses

Creative Commons Zero (CC0) is a public domain license that allows for free use of an asset without attribution. However, most other licenses do require some form of attribution, which means giving credit to the original artist for their work. The MIT license is one example of a license that requires attribution. Game developers should also be wary of "viral" licenses like the GPL v3, which requires that any derivative works also be released under the GPL v3 license.

Giving Credit to Artists

When using other people's work in game projects, it's important to make sure that the artist receives proper credit. This can be done through including the artist's name in the game credits or on the game's page on a jam site, for example. Some licenses may also require a link back to the originaly work or the creator's website.


Use Creative Commons or MIT licensed assets, be wary of GPL, and credit the artist.

Why Licenses Matter

Jason Thompson, Local Louisville composer

Photo by David R. Lutman, Courier Journal, Aug 4 2019