[MUD-Dev] DGN: Reasons for play [was: Emergent Behaviorsspawnedfrom...]

cruise cruise at casual-tempest.net
Fri Nov 11 00:41:02 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


Sean Howard spake thusly...

> I think we can find something better than "factors of
> entertainment" (something a bit more concise, at least), but
> "virtues" is excellent, in my opinion.

I think I suggested "aspects" when I made this point about two weeks
ago :P There are objective aspects of a game, and there are
subjective reactions to those aspects. Good refers to the latter,
but doesn't prevent us from discussing the former.

<snip>

> I thought so too, but it doesn't look like WoW is suffering for
> it. I thought everybody would play it for a few months and get
> tired of it, but it seems to be retaining players - and the new
> expansion looks like more of the same. I don't think we can equate
> virtue with financial success or failure either way. Something can
> be appealing and virtuous (ie GTA3, Katamari Damacy), appealing
> but not virtuous (ie Final Fantasy, WoW), or virtuous but not
> appealing (Unlimited SaGa, anything by Treasure). They don't seem
> to be related, and I can't for the life of me find a situation
> where virtue is the key to financial success except for word of
> mouth campaigns.

WoW does lots of things right from a user experience point of view -
cartoony graphics, key interactive objects clearly marked, click to
move controls for the non-FPS player, etc. Lots of pop-culture
references, slightly tongue-in-cheek presentation. It all adds up to
a "friendly" experience.

As Raph Koster points out in Theory of Fun, however, games basically
involve learning patterns. And game designers are amazingly good at
spotting game patterns. Which means most of us on this list
immediately ignore the interface and presentation and see the
underlying patterns of gameplay underneath, and see nothing new.

> Disagree. There's such a distaste for marketing out there. I think
> all designers think they are the next Miyamoto and don't want
> their pure vision soiled by such unclean forces. As designers, I
> say we let the marketing department work out the marketing, and
> we'll worry about making sure that our pure vision is worth
> preserving :)

In Rules of Play (Salen & Zimmerman) the point is made that games
don't exist in a vacuum. While there is a distinction between game
and not-game, outside culture and expectations do follow players
into the "magic circle" of a game. Those factors can have a huge
influence on how people receive something. Monopoly, for example, is
heavily based on "The Landlord's Game", that was originally designed
to show the futility of landownership and demonstrate it's
evils. And yet basically the same board, with slight rule changes
and a different presentation carries an entirely different
message. Which one has proved more popular in our capitalist
culture? (I'm simplifying somewhat, but the point stands).

Games can be no more "pure" examples of interactive algorithms than
cloning research can be purely an attempt to understand reproductive
biology. While that doesn't have to include marketing per se, an
awareness of external culture and user experience does have a large
effect on the appeal of a game.

--
[ cruise / casual-tempest.net / transference.org ]
   "quantam sufficit"
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