As a graphic design student, I can’t help but notice when I game is being friendly to the trained eye of a graphic designer and when it is totally missing the mark. (If you don’t know exactly what good graphic design looks like, here’s an example) The best example of a design-friendly game is Mirror’s Edge.
Mirror’s Edge uses stark color contrasts in many of it’s environments. They end up looking brilliant (color-wise), modern, and edgy. Pay attention if you play this, and look at the color choices. Well, actually, it’s hard to miss.
Limbo is pretty design-friendly due to its simplicity. Graphic Design is all about simplicity joining effectiveness – which is also a great way to describe Limbo.
I would say Half-Life 2 is also effective in its simplicity: One can play through the entire story without a loading screen or a break from the first person viewpoint. And the entire map was designed with the super simple valve engine which makes use of simple ideas like physics and mechanisms. That makes for a solid, simple, and constructive gameplay experience.
Little Big Planet is quite a designer-friendly title, but for different reasons. It’s overall mood is soaked with a playfulness that was subtly well-planned. One might not recognize right away how much work went into making something that appears so simple. That’ s design genius.
If any reader has any at all thoughts on the subject, I encourage you to comment.