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Seduction Secrets In Video Game Design 61

Hugh Pickens writes "Drawing on cognitive science, an increasing number of game theorists and designers say that our growing love of video games has important things to tell us about our intrinsic desires and motivations. Central to it all is a simple theory – that games are fun because they teach us interesting things and they do it in a way that our brains prefer – through systems and puzzles. 'With games, learning is the drug,' writes Raph Koster, the designer of seminal multiplayer fantasy games such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. 'In game theory, this is often spoken of as the "magic circle": you enter into a realm where the rules of the real world don't apply – and typically being judged on success and failure is part of the real world. People need to feel free to try things and to learn without being judged or penalised.' Another important element is autonomy as games tap into our need to have control. This is very obvious in 'god games' such as The Sims, where we shape the lives of virtual humans, but it's becoming a vital element of action adventures and shooters, too. Finally another important game design facet is 'disproportionate feedback,' in which players are hugely rewarded for achieving very simple tasks. In highly successful shooters such as Call of Duty and Bulletstorm, when an enemy is shot, they don't just collapse to the floor, they explode into chunks. 'You're good, you're a success – you're powerful,' writes Stuart. 'Disproportionate feedback is an endorphin come-on.'"
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Seduction Secrets In Video Game Design

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  • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

    I'm not sure I should listen to advice on game design from the designer of Star Wars Galaxies?

    • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )

      What is the question asking?

  • BF Skinner (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Friday May 20, 2011 @03:54PM (#36194960)

    Games are attractive because they train you with positive reinforcement quickly delivered.

    More complex theories are superfluous.

    • Re:BF Skinner (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Friday May 20, 2011 @04:02PM (#36195088)
      Yeah this is hardly ground breaking: 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted []
    • by drb226 ( 1938360 )

      This comment is attractive because it trains you with positive reinforcement quickly delivered.

      More complex theories are superfluous.


    • by NoSig ( 1919688 )
      I wouldn't want to play any game you had designed.
      • I think it would like something like this:

        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        (Switch to variable interval schedule)
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +0
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +0
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +0
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +1
        Pick up that can! (Picks up can.) +0

    • by migla ( 1099771 )

      Yes, behaviorism is at the core and sometimes there is not much else, but it's also kind of solved and boring from a waxing-philosophical-about-the-games point of view.

      More interesting, IMO, is precisely whatever more complex theories could be applied, even if they just add nuance above the fundamental skinner box.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't help but feel a bit of shock at how well this describes very core aspects of game design. I mod games as a hobby, and finding ways to keep players happy makes up a large part of my day. This article is not only completely true (in the areas that matter) but it sums up complicated task in a simple and direct way.

    Just how many ways can you find to make the player feel good about simple achievements without drowning the overall experience, or how do you scale your rewards to entice more play time? T

  • He missed another important feature required for a game to be massively successful. It has to allow creativity and be fairly open ended. EX: Minecraft. People don't play minecraft to survive zombies. People play because the game lets them create. I think that is also why people enjoy RPGs, you are slowly creating a character. Another example would be Diablo II. The main draw of that game was that with the various items, skills, etc... you could come up with your own character build and create. The inability
    • That might be the draw for some, but given the number of cookie cutter builds in D2, I think it's fair to say that the draw for most was finding items. Creating new characters was just an afterthought when you realize you have all these new items sitting around and nothing to do with them.

      For others, the draw was neither of these though. I know some people would spend the entire day in one of the trading channels gradually trading their way into more items. If you knew the typical prices of common/desirable

  • It's true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mad Merlin ( 837387 ) on Friday May 20, 2011 @04:13PM (#36195200) Homepage

    A big part of games is learning, but also that of mastery and accomplishment. People like to get things done, and they also like to feel that they're constantly getting better. Today's games have picked up on this and virtually all of them have "achievements". People like these because they can put numbers to what they've done and compare themselves to others easily. If I have a thousand achievement points, I obviously much better than the guy over there with just fifty.

    For all the time and effort that high budget games put into fancy graphics, they often miss the simple things that make a game fun (learning, achievement, mastery). Take Game! [] for example, it's deceptively simple at first, allowing you to learn things at your own pace, but for the OCD crowd there's so many things to find, combine, and cook that to do all of it is quite the task. However, more importantly, there's direct feedback in Game! [] about how many items you have out of the total, how many combinations you've found out of the total, etc. This gives people a concrete goal that they can strive for. Ideally, you strike a balance between casual and OCD so that casual players can play through the entire game without too much trouble (even if they might only get 10% of the 'achievements"), while the more OCD players can gradually work their way through every single "achievement".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's seduction right there!

    Real girl with fake silicon breasts or fake girls rendered with real silicon... at least the fake ones don't slap you when you drool at them.

  • about seduction from playing Fable II!

  • How can we take what we've learned from video games, and apply it to education? Our education system is failing a distressingly high portion of students; could we make Math and Literature "stick" better by gamifying the subjects in a meaningful way? I know that (most) of us are over gold-stars at this point, but can we take the lesson of "overemphasize success" from Peggle, and give kids a "you're freaking awesome!" anthem whenever they master a new skill? Would we be better served by a Super Mario Bros app

    • by Grygus ( 1143095 )

      Schools have a lot of problems, but I honestly think that motivating the kids is one of the smallest; any teacher worth the title can solve that one on their own, given minimal levels of funding. American society as a whole is very hostile to schools right now. Teachers are paid relatively low salaries in most places. Schools as a whole are grossly underfunded. We have had a strong anti-intellectual streak in pop culture for the last few decades. We tie funding to superficial metrics like standardized

      • I agree with a lot of what you say - but I don't think funding issues have anything to do with the problems in our schools.

        Teachers are generally paid more than people in their community are, and with much better benefits.

        School funding in most places is pretty good. In the state I live in we fund schools to the tune of $13,200 per pupil. That should be enough.

        We do have great inefficiencies in the schools. The administrative loads are ridiculous. These eat up a lot of the funds that should be spent on actu

      • Teachers are paid relatively low salaries in most places. Schools as a whole are grossly underfunded.

        I agree with you in both cases but neither of these is the primary problem in education. The problem is treating us all the same when we are not, as well as treating us different in ways we aren't. You take a group of kids and tell the teacher they're gifted and they excel, you take a group of kids and tell the teacher they're problems and just see what happens.

    • in the south it would have to be a god game.

    • A good number of researchers are quite involved in research into developing games to use as teaching and learning tools. One notable school in New York City, Quest to Learn ( actually has a curriculum based around 'game-like' learning and actively uses a number of educational video games as part of the curriculum. [] [] []
  • Pluck a little string, make a big noise!

    Chugging heavy metal riffs is like blowing up objects in a video game.

    Oh, and there can literally be "disproportionate feedback", too.

  • Great. Another article about talking heads yacking their heads off about video games, blah blah blah. I cringe when I see flowery text like "Like most titles in this genre, it's designed to put us into a series of dramatic set-pieces." No. It's designed to have you shooting all kinds of people with all sorts of weapons. That is what an FPS is.

    I'd be far more impressed if they actual did a study of the human brain and what parts of it are in use while playing video games - pleasure/reward centers etc. Oth
  • 'With games, learning is the drug,' writes Raph Koster

    Insert slightly uncomfortable "America's War on Drugs" joke here...