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Fun

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Important, but vague concept. What makes the player want to play? ... imagining yourself as Pele, David Beckham or Freddie Adu. Narrative. the story of the game ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Fun


1
Fun
  • Robin Burke
  • GAM 224

2
Outline
  • Fun / Pleasure
  • Types of Pleasure
  • Flow
  • Managing Difficulty
  • Meaning
  • Systems of meaning

3
Fun
  • Important, but vague concept
  • What makes the player want to play?
  • What makes the player want to keep playing?
  • Not always the same thing for a given game

4
Experience vs Pleasure
  • Experience
  • what players do (most) to play
  • Fun
  • the pleasurable quality of those experiences

5
Example
  • Soccer
  • Perception
  • trajectory of ball
  • trajectory of players
  • Analysis
  • negative space
  • Decision
  • points of attack / defense
  • Execution
  • positioning, dribbling, passing, shooting,
    blocking, tackling

6
Where is the fun?
  • Being right (cognitive)
  • correctly identifying a weakness and exploiting
    it
  • Being skillful (sensation)
  • correct physical execution
  • Being competitive (contest)
  • winning individual confrontations
  • winning the game
  • Being collaborative (social)
  • communicating well with team members

7
Typologies of pleasure
  • Fun is a vague concept
  • we want to talk about the pyschological rewards
    of playing
  • "pleasure"
  • Various ways to analyze these rewards

8
LeBlanc
  • Sensation
  • the game engages the senses
  • Fantasy
  • the game lets us play make-believe
  • Narrative
  • the game has interesting characters and
    compelling drama
  • Challenge
  • we can confront and overcome challenges
  • Fellowship
  • we can build relationships with other people
  • Discovery
  • we discover new things and places
  • Expression
  • we express ourselves
  • Submission
  • we follow blindly

9
Caillois
  • Agon
  • competitive struggle
  • Alea
  • chance
  • Mimicry
  • make-believe
  • Ilinx
  • physical sensation

10
Soccer, revisited
  • Sensation
  • the feel of the field, the sounds and sights of
    the players in action
  • Fantasy
  • imagining yourself as Pele, David Beckham or
    Freddie Adu
  • Narrative
  • the story of the game
  • dramatic moments the highlight reel
  • Challenge
  • meeting the physical demands of running, blocking
    and kicking
  • meeting the cognitive demands of offensive and
    defensive play
  • Fellowship
  • the comradeship of the team
  • Discovery
  • learning new techniques
  • Expression
  • developing a personal style of play
  • Submission
  • the rituals of the game
  • the kickoff, the corner kick, etc.

11
Asteroids
  • Sensation
  • black and white vector drawings
  • Fantasy
  • imagining yourself commanding a space ship
  • Narrative
  • individual dramatic moments
  • Challenge
  • the demands of maneuvering and clearing asteroids
  • the increasing challenge of higher game levels
  • Fellowship
  • not much
  • Discovery
  • not much
  • Expression
  • not much
  • Submission
  • not much

12
Wind Waker
  • Sensation
  • cartoony, but beautiful and fantastic imagery
  • realistic natural sounds
  • Fantasy
  • imagining yourself as a young warrior
  • Narrative
  • the unfolding of plot elements leading to the
    defeat of Gannon
  • Challenge
  • figuring out puzzles
  • defeating enemies
  • Fellowship
  • not much
  • Discovery
  • finding and exploring new locations
  • acquisition of new items and new powers
  • Expression
  • not much
  • Submission
  • the stylized forms of combat

13
Thunderstorm
  • Sensation
  • simple drawings
  • throwing the dice
  • Fantasy
  • not much
  • Narrative
  • increased tension with fewer dice
  • the destruction of houses
  • Challenge
  • not much
  • Fellowship
  • sharing the game activity
  • Discovery
  • not much
  • Expression
  • not much
  • Submission
  • the acceptance of random outcome

14
Sources of pleasure
  • Games
  • differ in where the pleasure arises
  • Video games
  • emphasize particular types of challenge
  • cognitive
  • hand-eye coordination
  • emphasize fantasy
  • emphasize narrative
  • Because
  • these capitalize on the advantages of the
    computer

15
The cost of fun
  • Pleasure is not cheap
  • high-quality graphics and sound
  • creative stories and vivid dialog
  • thoroughly tested and balanced gameplay mechanics
  • lots of territory to discover
  • all expensive
  • Top game titles are expensive to produce
  • because they try to provide pleasure of all types
  • Focused titles
  • emphasize a subset
  • are criticized for the things they leave out
  • cheaper to make
  • require perfect execution
  • Classic engineering trade-off
  • put development effort where the biggest pleasure
    pay-off lies

16
Challenge
  • Most important source of pleasure in video games
  • in the post-arcade era
  • Reasons
  • suits the computer's strengths
  • easy to make things faster
  • more intense
  • suits the aesthetics of the audience
  • adolescent males

17
Level of Challenge
  • "hide and seek"

18
Difficulty
  • Too hard
  • game can't be enjoyed
  • Too easy
  • game is boring
  • nothing to learn

19
Quantifying difficulty
  • Analytical
  • of choices
  • complexity of decision
  • branching factor
  • complexity of execution
  • Empirical
  • Playtesting

20
Adjusting difficulty
  • change probabilities
  • more accuracy required
  • change opposing force
  • more opponents
  • smarter opponents
  • new option
  • decision-making more complex
  • as long as dominance avoided
  • new opponent / environment
  • more to learn
  • new constraint
  • routine patterns can't be applied

21
Pacing
  • "Pace" of the game
  • speed at which new challenges are introduced
  • speed at which player must master each in order
    to succeed

22
Arcade games
  • primary challenge
  • speed and accuracy of response
  • "button mashing"
  • difficulty adjustments
  • number of targets
  • response speed required
  • cost of error
  • usually continuous increase of difficulty until
    impossible

23
Example
  • WarioWare

24
Match skills and opportunities
  • More opportunities than skills
  • player will flounder
  • game becomes overwhelming
  • More skills than opportunities
  • game is limiting
  • player feels confined

25
Mastery
  • When the choices and perceptions become
    "automatic"
  • non-deliberative
  • Can only happen when
  • skills are fully learned
  • perceptions correctly trained

26
Path to mastery repetition
  • Basic psychology
  • repetition of skill increases performance
  • But
  • how to manage repetition?
  • major concern in game design

27
Repetition
  • Invariant
  • starting level all over
  • Drawback
  • level involves many skills
  • failure in one means need to repeat all
  • Decomposition
  • emphasize new skills as acquired
  • Problem
  • must generate more levels
  • Practice Mode
  • allow player to practice outside of main game

28
Flow
  • "The state in which people are so involved in an
    activity that nothing else seems to matter the
    experience itself is so enjoyable that people
    will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake
    of doing it."
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

29
Flow state
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Intense focus
  • Responses are fast, continuous and (almost)
    unconscious
  • Many examples
  • athletes, musicians, surgeons, pilots, soldiers
  • gamers

30
Flow games
  • Any well-designed game can induce flow
  • chess
  • Some games are designed specifically to require
    continuous, not-too-deliberative action
  • racing games
  • warioware

31
Example
32
What builds flow?
  • Attention invested in realistic goals
  • Skills match opportunities for action
  • Skills can be mastered
  • Learning
  • acquisition of skills
  • increased ability to participate
  • shared community / developed commitment

33
Flow as a design goal
  • Present the player with realistic goals
  • Match skills and affordances
  • Teach skills
  • Have those skills increase level of participation
  • Develop the player's commitment

34
Realistic goals
  • Goal is realistic if it can be accomplished by
    the player
  • might require acquisition of new skills
  • Player has to adopt the goal and understand that
    it is possible
  • Level of challenge

35
Conditioning
  • Basic learning system
  • Pavlov's dog
  • People will be more likely to do X
  • if doing X has been rewarded in the past
  • People will be less likely to do X
  • if doing X has been punished in the past

36
Reinforcement in games
  • Reward
  • positive reinforcement
  • a power-up
  • a cool animation
  • a new move
  • negative reinforcement
  • removal of an obstacle
  • destruction of an enemy
  • Punishment
  • starting over
  • loss of life / health / power-up

37
Schedules
  • There must be enough regular rewards to keep
    player playing
  • long-term big rewards are theoretically the same
  • but practically a player wants goodies
  • The rewards must be substantial enough and
    regular enough
  • to make enduring the punishments worthwhile

38
Reward types
  • Glory
  • not game-play related
  • finishing the game
  • cool cut-scene
  • Sustenance
  • give the player needed resources
  • health packs
  • ammo
  • Access
  • give player access to new spaces / levels
  • keys
  • maps
  • Facility
  • give avatar new abilities
  • new weapon
  • ability to fly

39
Meaning
40
Meaning review
  • Meaning is created by the interpretation of
    signifiers in context
  • A game designer
  • creates a new context
  • with new meanings
  • using particular signifiers

41
Systems of meaning
  • Individual signifiers
  • "hand with red circle" means "disabled"
  • System of signifiers
  • whole set of icons for different status
    conditions
  • When a new icon appears
  • players has to try to understand what it might
    mean

42
Play of meaning
  • The way in which the game invites the player to
    use its system of signs
  • Activities
  • interpreting signs
  • learning new signs
  • looking for signs
  • sometimes inventing signs

43
Assassin
  • The clown nose
  • means "an 'assassin' is out to get somebody"
  • means "I'm metaphorically disguised"
  • means "I'm playing the game"
  • People fleeing
  • means "I'm playing the game"
  • means "I'm escaping an in-game threat"

44
Play with meaning
  • Sometimes games invite play with meaning
  • Signs with conventional meaning are subverted
  • dissonance between the conventional meaning and
    the game's meaning
  • Examples
  • Spin the Bottle
  • a kiss signifies?
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • carjacking signifies?

45
Game Metacommunication
  • Meta
  • (beyond or behind)
  • The communication about the game
  • as opposed to the communication required in order
    to play
  • How do we know that we are playing
  • constant stream of communicative acts required to
    keep play going
  • to signal involvement
  • focus of attention
  • readiness of participation
  • game-appropriate demeanor

46
World of Warcraft
  • MMORPG
  • The game has in it a wide variety of signs
  • with in-game meanings
  • Signs
  • types of characters, monsters, NPCs
  • artifacts of all kinds
  • the look of towns, buildings, countryside
  • These have a coherence to them that makes the
    game comprehensible
  • Players
  • play with these signs
  • they pick names, races, occupations
  • they might choose armor that looks cool
  • regardless of its powers
  • they adopt a certain style of play
  • that has a personal character

47
WoW, cont'd
  • Meta-communication
  • Players communicate a lot
  • through various channels
  • They are trying to send signals about play
  • whether they can be trusted members of a party,
    for example

48
Monday
  • Game Design activity
  • Bring your playing cards
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