D&D is games development, says Alex Peake

D&D is games development, says Alex Peake
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

November 12th 2012 at 7:39AM

Code Hero creator talks about the relationship between imaginative play and game design

Alex Peake of Primer Labs draws inspiration as a developer from his dissapointment at computerized versions of pen-and-paper classic Dungeons and Dragons.

Peake is the face of the studio behind Kickstarter success Code Hero, a first person code-em-up that teaches players to make their own games.

But his days as a game developer began much earlier, when as a child he began playing D&D.

"When you play Dungeons & Dragons, you have the challenges of a writer, an improvisational actor, and a game designer all wrapped into one," he told Video Game Writers.

"When you become the Dungeon Master for a group, you want that creativity to, at will, create anything; to build a new system in your mind, just as soon as the player asks for something, to be able to give it to them."

But when he began playing computerized versions of D&D, he was "appalled" at their lack of creativity.

It was the abscence of that sense of freedom and creativity that called Peake to become a games developer, but he says his days as a designer began as soon as he picked up a D20.

"The moment you play D&D, you’re a game developer."

Never one to mince words, Peake has trouble imagining coming to games development without a roleplaying background.

"I rather worry about a generation of game designers, in an age where games are so ubiquitous, how could you call yourself a game designer if you’ve never played D&D?" he said.

"I cannot imagine coming upon the craft any other way."

"Nowadays a lot of people are so familiar with MMO-type games that when they hear about DnD, they try to translate it into MMO terms.They’ve got it backwards – all games are pale approximations of what imaginative games can do."