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					Fun

Robin Burke
GAM 224
Outline

 Admin
 Fun / Pleasure
     Types of Pleasure
     Flow
     Managing Difficulty

   Meaning
       Systems of meaning
Admin

   Play paper handout
       Due 5/16
   Rewrites
       Due 5/25
Play Paper

   Schemas
       Experience
       Pleasure
       Meaning
       Narrative
       Simulation
       Social Play
   Thesis should say both
       what schemas
       preview your findings
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
Experience vs Pleasure

   Experience
       what players do (most) to play
   Fun
       the pleasurable quality of those
        experiences
Example

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

   Agon
       competitive struggle
   Alea
       chance
   Mimicry
       make-believe
   Ilinx
       physical sensation
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 style of play
   Submission
        the rituals of the game
           •    the kickoff, the corner kick, etc.
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
FFTA
   Sensation
        tiny screen
        annoying music
        cute drawings
   Fantasy
        imagining yourself as a mage or warrior
   Narrative
        the unfolding of plot elements leading to the desired return to real life
   Challenge
        the demands of managing battles under increasing constraint
        the demands of managing clan development
   Fellowship
        not much
   Discovery
        unfolding of different locations in the game world
        acquisition of new items and new powers
   Expression
        not much
   Submission
        the stylized forms of battle
        the imposition of rules
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
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
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
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
Level of Challenge

   "hide and seek"
Difficulty

   Too hard
       game can't be enjoyed
   Too easy
     game is boring
     nothing to learn
Quantifying difficulty

   Analytical
     # of choices
     complexity of decision
         • branching factor
       complexity of execution
   Empirical
       Playtesting
Adjusting difficulty

   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
Pacing

   "Pace" of the game
     speed at which new challenges are
      introduced
     = speed at which player must master
      each in order to succeed
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
Example

   WarioWare
Match skills and
opportunities
   More opportunities than skills
     player will flounder
     game becomes overwhelming

   More skills than opportunities
     game is limiting
     player feels confined
Mastery

   When the choices and perceptions
    become "automatic"
       non-deliberative
   Can only happen when
     skills are fully learned
     perceptions correctly trained
Path to mastery = repetition

   Basic psychology
       repetition of skill increases
        performance
   But
     how to manage repetition?
     major concern in game design
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
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
Flow state

 Loss of sense of time
 Intense focus

 Responses are fast, continuous and
  (almost) unconscious
 Many examples
     athletes, musicians, surgeons, pilots,
      soldiers
     gamers
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
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
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
Meaning (from 4/4)

 Meaning is created by the
  interpretation of signifiers in context
 A game designer
     creates a new context
     with new meanings
     using particular signifiers
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
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
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?
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
Monday

 Narrative
 Simulation

				
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