George Fan of Plants Vs. Zombies has four questions to avert avert disaster

GDC 13: How to choose a game theme

It can be hard to find the right theme for your game, but George Fan says he has four questions that can help.

Speaking to the audience at the GDC 2013 Microtalks session, the Plants vs. Zombies creator said he uses these questions to come up with similarly rich thematic experiences.

First, Fan says devs should focus on themes that drive their interest; it’s hard to create compelling content based on something you don’t care about.

Second, he suggests focusing on themes that support the game’s mechanics; a game with a prehistoric theme is unlikely to resonate well as a train simulator.

Theme can also help communicate the goal of a game, and devs should take this into account.

Finally, a game’s theme should have both familiar and new elements.

If a theme is too strange or new, it won’t resonate with users. If it’s too familiar, users will lose interest, or never pay attention at all.


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