Identify Your Audience
Who's going to play? This is one of the most important things to remember when designing a game. If you are designing for a specific purpose, you should use that information to help identify your audience. For many of you, your audience may be just yourselfin which case, lucky you, you can just create any game that strikes your interest! However, if you are designing a game for a client or for another purpose, then there is probably an audience to whom your game should be tailored.
For instance, if you are making a game for a popular sugary breakfast cereal's Web site, then your audience is most likely young kids. A game of 8-ball is unlikely to hold their attention. If your original idea was for a platform game, such as Super Mario Brothers, then you would probably want to modify this idea to use cute characters and to have a simple objective. However, if it turns out that the cereal-eating age group is high school students, then a somewhat more complex theme or objective for the platform game is more likely to keep them interested.
Identifying your audience should not be a difficult task. If you are building a game for a company or client, they should be able to tell you who the intended audience is. If they say, "We would like this game to appeal to all ages," then you are in a tough spot. It's difficult to design a game that will please everyone. In such a case, you are probably better off taking (or looking for a minor new twist on) a tried-and-true idea that has already been shown to appeal to all ages, like checkers. If you are building a game for your own Web site, make sure you have a good idea of the type of visitors you receive or the types of visitors you are trying to attract.
How do you know if your game idea will appeal to a certain audience? This is a difficult question to answer. If your idea is not original or is very similar to some existing games, then it would be in your best interest to use that game as an example. Find out if your target audience is interested in that sort of game. If your idea is unique, you'll have to take the time to develop a simple prototype and try it out on your intended audience to see if the response is what you expected. You can then make modifications and retest. There is no way to accurately predict who will like your game.