In the introduction to the text, the author tells us something about his job history and begins describing the process of designing a game:
A theme is introduced that will be repeated: the designer's goal is to give the player an experience. It is not enough to have a plot, rules for play, goals to meet, and an impressive look. The designer should also consider the experience that a player will have, or he is ignoring the thing that will make the game a success or a failure.
The player is looking for an experience that makes them want to play the game. So, what is the magic ingredient? The author admits that there is no concrete answer to that question. There are many answers that the text will consider, that are each part of the designer's quest for creating the next game. Each perspective that the text applies to the design process will be thought of as a lens, a different way of looking at the game design that tells us whether or not it is good.
The act of creating a game can be like other kinds of artistic creation. A game may contain many kinds of creation. For this reason the author tells us to consider the creative processes used in many artforms: music, film, painting, animation, writing, and more can be part of a game design. It is not necessary for one person to be able to do it all, because most games are created by teams, not by individuals. It is, however, better for a designer to learn something about each of these fields to be a better designer.
This leads to the idea that we should use design concepts from various arts, some of which we will have to learn along the way, to make our product better than it would be without that effort.
The first lesson in chapter 1 is to start being a game designer by deciding that you are a game designer. This is not a new idea. William James wrote:
“If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.”
Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
Both ideas fit with the author's idea that you have to accept the role and responsibility of being a game designer to become a game designer. What was that? You didn't get the idea that there was responsibility involved? Take a look a the list of skills a game designer needs. (It begins on page 2 and runs to page 4.) Nineteen different disciplines are named, and you could pursue a college degree in most of them. As I noted above, you have the responsibility to learn what you don't already know, or work with someone who knows (or will learn) the necessary skills for each aspect of a game that will be developed. Not all game designs will use all of these skills, but complex games may.
The chapter turns to the twentieth skill: listening. The author means active listening, thinking about what you hear and asking questions for clarification. The discussion turns to five entities you should "listen" to when designing a game.