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  • GDC 08 Coverage: Top Ten Research Findings

    [02.20.08]
    - GameCareerGuide.com staff
  •  After culling hundreds of studies about video games, players, virtual worlds, and god knows what else, Jane McGonigal (Palo Alto Research Center), Ian Bogost (Persuasive Games, Georgia Institute of Technology), and Mia Consalvo (Ohio University) have once again come up with the top 10 research findings of the year.

    Their top 10 list has become a staple of the Game Developers Conference, where they presented the findings for 2007 in a lecture called "Game Studies Download 3.0."

    In the session talk, the trio boiled down the most essential findings of the study, and then gave a takeaway idea and question for game designers to ask themselves about how they make games in response to what they know now that they didn't know before.

    At GDC, the group fully explained the purpose of the research and how it was carried out, and explored the implications of the findings; but for our readers, the quick and dirty list is below.

    Top 10 Game Research Findings of 2007
    10. The best content understands exactly how the player likes to play -- and makes it slightly harder.
    Takeaway: Custom procedural variation in a limited environment can be more fun than big environments and open worlds.
    Question for game designers: How can your next game use player-inspired procedural variation?

    9. Breaking the "immersive spell" can make gameplay more engaging.
    Takeaway: Making players remember it's a game can heighten their experience.
    Question for game designers: Could you engage players by breaking their immersion at least once?

    8. Reality-based gaming is already a bigger market than you think [particularly in China].
    Takeaway: Reality gaming is taking consoles and mobile devices in a more "traditionally social" direction.
    Question for game designers: How can your next game go beyond the screen to better facilitate playing with friends and family?

    7. Gamers can be altruistic, emphatic, and nurturing.
    Takeaway: Empathy, altruism, and attraction can add emotional depth to any game.
    Question for game designers: How can your next game make players want to be nice to game characters?

    6. It takes 10 hours of gameplay for women to play with the same spatial attention skill [i.e., locating and identifying a target on screen] as men.
    Takeaway: Women can excel at spatial attention games, given time with the game.
    Question for game designers: How can you get new gamers to invest 10 hours in your game while they improve their spatial attention?

    5. The exit screen matters.
    Takeaway: The exit experience is an under-design game space.
    Question for game designers: How will you architect a grand exit to your next game?

    4. Musical instrument tutoring can make you a real music hero.
    Takeaway: Music games can answer the criticism "why not play a real instrument" -- without sucking.
    Question for game designers: How can future music games connect fantasy performance with real-world practice?

    3. Voice chat measurably makes you like your guildmates more -- usually.
    Takeaway: Voice intensifies social impact, which is a mixed blessing.
    Question for game designers: How can you help players mitigate potential downsides of voice chat?

    2. There are three key ways to increase the monetary value of avatars.
    Takeaway: Gamers are increasingly looking for maximum "character value."
    Question for game designers: How will you use social, achievement, and immersion value to increase your next game character's net worth?

    1. Video games are the future of live sports.
    Takeaway: Sports viewing is changing, and video games have a huge role to play in their future.
    Question for game designers: How can your next sports game mix the realities of live professional sports with a virtual version of it? And really, how might any game mix the realities of a live real event with a virtual version of it?

    You can view the slides from this GDC session at www.avantgame.com/top10.htm .


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