Rules of Play Designing Addictive Gameplay for Online Learning Museums & the Web 2012 Dave Schaller firstname.lastname@example.org Why Games?“Why does learning have to be a game? Why can’t learning just be learning?” Museum Director of Education 1997
Why Games? 97%of American teens play computer games Games are designed to be highly compelling and meaningful experiences Learning in Games All games are educational—to win, you must learn how to play the gameBut it’s not always obvious what you’re learning! America’s Army
Learning in GamesIt’s good to match gameplay with game content Learning in Games "Know" is a verb before it is a noun, "knowledge." And something very interesting happens when one treats knowledge first and foremost as activity and experience, not as facts and information—the facts come to life. Facts become easier to assimilate if learners are immersed in activities and experiences that use these facts for plans, goals, and purposes within a coherent knowledge domain. -James Paul Gee
A Series of Interesting Decisions Narrative Game A series of events A series of actions (or decisions) with a (or decisions) within beginning and (possibly a rule-based system multiple) ending(s) Simple rules create complex situations Making Meaning Within the Rules For the player: “Games provide situated experiences in which players are immersed in complex, problem- solving tasks.”* To an observer: “He’s just doing the same thing over and over again.”***Kurt Squire**Mother of 10-year-old gamer
What Makes Games Fun Some of the pleasures that games offer: • Fantasy: The pleasure of an imaginary world • Narrative: Dramatic unfolding of events • Challenge: A problem to be solved • Discovery: Exploration and secret features • Anticipation: Knowing something is coming • Possibility: Having many choices • Purification: Making something clean • Surprise: Finding the unexpected • Thrill: Fear minus death equals fun • Pride in Accomplishment • Triumph over Adversity Designing the GameTop-Down DevelopmentContent & Audience Goals Outcomes Components Game Mechanics Let the gameplay shape the experience, for a stronger match between gameplay and learning Goals Outcomes Find the fun! Game Mechanics Content & Audience Bottom-Up Development
A Game is Defined by Core Dynamics The core dynamic (not the topic, not the content) is the single thing the game is about. It’s what the player spends most of their time doing— while thinking about how to do it well. A Game is Defined by Core Dynamics The core dynamic must be interesting enough to do over and over and over again.• Territorial Acquisition (Risk)• Prediction (Roulette)• Spatial Reasoning (Tetris)• Survival (Stay Alive)• Destruction (Boom Blox)• Building (SimCity)• Collection (Pokeman)• Chasing or Evading (PacMan)• Trading (Pit)• Race to the End (Candyland)
Elements of a Game The game dynamics are created by the interplay of the elements of the game • Space • Components • Rules • Actions • Skills • Chance Elements of a GameSpace: Where the game takes place• How do players move through the space?• What is the look and feel of the space? www.wolfquest.org
Elements of a GameRulesDefine the goals of the game and the relationships betweencomponents.• Need a mix of short-term and long-term goals• A few simple rules can create emergent gameplay• Rules must be easy to learn and remember Games can have multiple modes (with different gameplay), but too many will confuse and frustrate players. Elements of a GameComponentsActive pieces of the game: player-character, non-player characters,and other objects in the game world. The game rules defines the relationships between the components
Elements of a Game Actions What players can do (verbs), and what happens as a result. Actions should have clear (and sometimes powerful) effects. Elements of a Game Actions What players can do (verbs), and what happens as a result.• The more objects that a verb can act on, the better the gameplay• What would players like to do in the game, and can we enable that?
Elements of a GameSkillsWhat the player must exercise to play the game.• Games can exercise physical, mental and social skills• When the game’s challenges match the player’s skills, the player is in flow Elements of a GameChanceProbability, uncertainty, and human psychology• Players should have opportunities to take risks• Randomness should make players excited and challenged, not hopeless and out of control• Hidden information (including what other players know or intend to do) feels like chance.
Skill and Chance Good games balance elements of skill and chance: • Elements of skill judge the player’s skill • Elements of chance encourage players to take risks • Adding elements of chance alleviates tedium • Replacing elements of chance with skill gives players greater feeling of control Examples sea.sheddaquarium.org/sea/buildafish/ flash.html buildingdetroit.detroithistorical.orgwww.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gal208/pioneers/ military06.cfm
Balance Skill and ChanceSkill Chance• Games can exercise • Players should have physical, mental and social opportunities to take risks skills • Randomness should make• When the game’s players excited and challenges match the challenged, not hopeless and player’s skills, the player is out of control in flow • Hidden information (including• Skills can be either real or what other players know or virtual intend to do) feels like chance. Small Groups: Skills and Chance Add skills to a game of pure chance. Physical Skills Dexterity, coordination, endurance Mental Skills Memory, observation, puzzle-solving Social Skills Reading an opponent, fooling an opponent, teamwork
Designing Skill-Based GameplayInnate Skills Virtual Skills Learned Skills Innate skills as analogs for learned skills www.asailorslife.org “A Series of Interesting Choices” What makes choices interesting? Consequences: • Must be a real choice, not a quiz with a correct answer • Dominant strategies (clearly better choices) negate the value of other choices* • Must have meaningful consequences in the game Context: • Game rules and gameworld complicate choices • Current situation in game affects assessment of choices Savvy Appeals to Human Psychology • Gambler’s Fallacy and Loss Aversion • Choices involving low risk/low reward vs. high risk/high reward outcomes are highly engaging * A puzzle is a game with a dominant strategy; once found, there’s no reason to play it again.
Interesting Choices Choices affect progression toward goals— quantitatively rather than qualitatively Interesting ConsequencesRewards Punishments • Praise • Shaming • Points • Loss of points • Prolonged play • Terminated play • A gateway • Setback • Spectacle • Removal of powers • Powers • Resource • Resources depletion • Completion
Small Group: Skills and ChoicesAdd virtual skills and interesting choices to a skill-based game. Virtual Skills • Use innate skills as analogs for learned skills Consequences • Real choices, not a quiz • Meaningful consequences • No dominant strategies Context: • Game rules and gameworld complicate choices • Current situation in game affects assessment of choices Human Psychology • Gambler’s Fallacy and Loss Aversion • Low risk/low reward vs. high risk/high reward choices Designing the GameTop-Down DevelopmentContent & Audience Goals Outcomes Components Game Mechanics Let the gameplay shape the experience, for a stronger match between gameplay and learning Goals Outcomes Find the fun! Game Mechanics Content & Audience Bottom-Up Development