I've always figured the best way to be a good writer is to be a great reader first. Is the same true of game design? Have you come across a game that made you think, woah that's cool, I gotta use that somehow.
I think that's absolutely true, of game design, of writing, of any kind of art.
Because you have to know what's out there. More than anything else, people enjoy novelty. You can't be novel if you don't know what others have already done.
(I guess if you're not selling anything -- you're just making "art for art's sake" -- this is less important. But personally, I don't even understand what the heck "art's sake" is. I make art because I want people to enjoy it (and if they pay me on top of that, enabling me to make more art, well awesome).)
Because consuming and copying art is how you learn to be a better artist. This sounds contradictory to the first, but it's a secret I learned much later than I wish I had: IT IS OKAY TO COPY GREAT ART.
Because this is how you learn. Because there's nothing truly original anyway. And because what makes something original is not that you thought of something nobody's ever thought of before (you didn't), but it's how you execute that idea with your own personal spin and style.
(Note that it's not okay to copy great art exactly and then claim it's your own. That's plagiarism. That's not what I'm talking about.)
I'm talking about copying things you love, figuring out how they work, mixing them with other things and with your own style to create something that's new, something that's yours. It's a secret because we are told that copying others is not creative, but the truth is that -- unless you're ridiculously lucky -- you can't make something good if you don't know what good is.
(To answer the last question, I have most certainly seen things in games that make me want to include them. All the time, in fact. Here's a recent example.)
Have a question? Ask me anything.