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  • Having A Satisfying Conversation

    - Anjin Anhut
  • When game designers start to see the games they make as a tool for a decent conversation with their target gamer, then they are on their way to deliver a truly satisfying gaming experience.

    Why Am I Writing This?

    Well, I find myself playing most big budget games for only a couple of hours or sometimes just minutes before I get fatally bored. When playing, I also find myself complaining about the same prominent game design decisions over and over again. After trying to wrap my head around all the elements that make me lose interest, I came to one conclusion: When it comes to gameplay mechanics and campaign structure, many game designers are not offering a decent exchange with me as the player.

    Harsh words, I know, but maybe viewing playing games as a conversation between the player and the designer could help getting behind what makes gaming more satisfying.

    A Satisfying Conversation

    When somebody plays a game, there is a conversation happening between the player and the game designer. The same kind of conversation happens between a movie director and the movie goer or between a writer and the reader. The same kind of conversation you and me are having in this very moment. We both aim for the same goals with this conversation. You want to read something interesting and I want you to read something interesting. But we both have to do our part to make that happen. Unfortunately we two weren't able to have our conversation before I wrote this article, so I as the writer have to anticipate what needs to be in this article and how it needs to be written to guide you the desired interesting reading experience. After that, you have to do the rest on your own. You have to read it, understand it, draw your own conclusions.

    The same thing occurs between the player and the game designer. Both aim for the player to feel like a winner, to be satisfied with the minutes he just played. For that the designer has to carefully anticipate the player's preferences, play style and skill level and has to cleverly craft a game, that guides the player towards the experience of winning. But again, the player has do go the second half of distance on his own. He needs to understand the game, play the game and make some progress while playing it. Both sides of this conversation need to do their part.

    This sort of exchange happens on a technical level also. The game utilizes the screen and speakers to send signals to the player and the player replies to that signals using the controller input device in his hand. This input from the player causes the game to display something different on screen and maybe give a new audio signal, which makes the player pressing buttons again. And repeat.

    Unique to interaction design is, that the game designer can create media that reacts to the player, instead of just spilling a fix sequence of content, like a film or a piece of writing would. The designer can make the conversation change depending on the behavior of the player. The designer should capitalize on that special feature of interactive media.

    If the game designer was able to anticipate and prepare for the behavior of the player and to help him not only achieve but also experience a moment of winning, voila, the designer was successful in creating a satisfying gaming moment.


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