Failure, frustration, insight

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In game design, frustration is often seen as something designers have to avoid. In game designer questionnaire we use to hire designers, we have a question “What is a worst thing you can do to the player as a designer?”. One of the common answers is “Frustrate the player”. It was my answer as well. Now I am going to prove why I was wrong.

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  • How can we deal with low frustration tolerance? By reassuring the player
    By preparing him to forthcoming frustration
    By increasing his self-esteem providing rewards and giving positive feedback on his actions
    By channeling his frustration to other emotions (anger is a simple way), don’t hesitate to taunt
  • How can we deal with low frustration tolerance? By reassuring the player
    By preparing him to forthcoming frustration
    By increasing his self-esteem providing rewards and giving positive feedback on his actions
    By channeling his frustration to other emotions (anger is a simple way), don’t hesitate to taunt
  • How can we deal with low frustration tolerance? By reassuring the player
    By preparing him to forthcoming frustration
    By increasing his self-esteem providing rewards and giving positive feedback on his actions
    By channeling his frustration to other emotions (anger is a simple way), don’t hesitate to taunt
  • How can we deal with low frustration tolerance?
    By preparing him to forthcoming frustration
    By increasing his self-esteem providing rewards and giving positive feedback on his actions
    By channeling his frustration to other emotions (anger is a simple way), don’t hesitate to taunt
  • Kohler pretty much ignored other patterns as he was interested mostly in determining if chimpanzes can make plans. He described cases of failure in his book, mostly rewarding failed apes with “stupid chimps” epitet
  • When making this bold statement, Einstein was probably unaware about Karl Dunker experiments, because the statement assumes that around 77% of humanity is insane.
  • Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used.


    In a classic experiment demonstrating functional fixedness, Duncker (1945) gave participants a candle, a box of thumbtacks, and a book of matches, and asked them to attach the candle to the wall so that it did not drip onto the table below. Duncker found that participants tried to attach the candle directly to the wall with the tacks, or to glue it to the wall by melting it. Very few of them (23% from recent experiments) thought of using the inside of the box as a candle-holder and tacking this to the wall.
  • In a classic experiment demonstrating functional fixedness, Duncker (1945) gave participants a candle, a box of thumbtacks, and a book of matches, and asked them to attach the candle to the wall so that it did not drip onto the table below. Duncker found that participants tried to attach the candle directly to the wall with the tacks, or to glue it to the wall by melting it. Very few of them (23% from recent experiments) thought of using the inside of the box as a candle-holder and tacking this to the wall.
  • Failure, frustration, insight

    1. 1. Failure, Frustration, Insight Taras Korol, Ubisoft Kiev
    2. 2. In game design, frustration is often seen as something designers have to avoid. In game designer questionnaire we use to hire designers, we have a question “What is a worst thing you can do to the player as a designer?”. One of the common answers is “Frustrate the player”. It was my answer as well. Now I am going to prove why I was wrong. Introduction
    3. 3. Wolfgang Köhler
    4. 4.  Kohler constructed a variety of problems for the chimps, involving obtaining food that was not directly accessible.  The chimps were solving the problem by a kind of cognitive trial and error, as if they were experimenting in their minds before manipulating the tools.  The pattern of these behaviors - failure, pause, looking at the potential tools, and then the attempt - would seem to involve insight and planning Kohler Experiments
    5. 5. Wolfgang Köhler The Mentality of Apes
    6. 6. Action Frustration Evaluation Failure Success Insight Re-Evaluation Situation A stable behavior pattern was observed
    7. 7. Action Frustration Evaluation Failure Situation Another behavior pattern was observed as well Anxiety
    8. 8.  Frustration is a natural reaction to the failure which arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will.  Frustration and motivation are related, but the relationship is non-linear.  Frustration can be the source of motivation and the source of anxiety Useful points
    9. 9. Abraham Maslow Frustration Tolerance Concept ‘These people [martyrs] may be understood, at least in part, by reference to one basic concept which may be called 'increased frustration-tolerance'. ‘
    10. 10.  People have a varying capability to tolerate frustration  Ideals, high standards and values help people to tolerate frustrations, up to the point where they may become martyrs  People who have been satisfied in their basic needs throughout their lives, seem to develop exceptional power to withstand thwarting of these needs Frustration Tolerance
    11. 11. Action Frustration Failure Success Reaction I am such an idiot, I will never succeed Re-Evaluation Developers are idiots The mission is impossible What can I do to succeed? Insight Frustration Tolerance Reaction Reaction Evaluation Situation Anxiety Frustration tolerance added to the flow
    12. 12. Re-assuring player (by reminding about previous success in this case) Why didn’t you stop Batman? Dealing with low Frustration Tolerance
    13. 13. Preparing player to forthcoming frustration Dealing with low Frustration Tolerance
    14. 14. Channeling frustration to anger (by insulting or taunting) Dealing with low Frustration Tolerance
    15. 15. Increasing self-esteem by providing feedback on successful actions Dealing with low Frustration Tolerance
    16. 16. Action Frustration Evaluation Failure Situation But some of the apes demonstrated not anxiety, but something different Repeating the same action over and over
    17. 17. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    18. 18. Karl Duncker Functional Fixedness Duncker gave participants a candle, a box of thumbtacks, and a book of matches, and asked them to attach the candle to the wall.
    19. 19. Karl Duncker Functional Fixedness Very few of them (23% from recent experiments) thought of using the inside of the box as a candle-holder and tacking this to the wall.
    20. 20. Overcoming Functional Fixedness  People overlook around 2/3 of object properties  Tony McCaffrey have proven that a simple list of object properties improves results to around 80% of success.  Once you are aware of it, functional fixedness behavior pattern is easy to detect and provide a hint  Player gets stuck not because he is dumb!
    21. 21. Action Frustration Evaluation Failure Success Insight Re-EvaluationSituation Functional fixedness added to the flow Anxiety Functional Fixedness
    22. 22. Action Frustration Failure Success Reaction I am such an idiot, I will never succeed Self-Esteem Signs, Feedbacks, Rewards Developers are idiots The mission is impossible What can I do to succeed? Evaluation Insight Frustration Tolerance Reaction Reaction Functional Fixedness Evaluation Situation
    23. 23. Conclusion  Frustration is an essential part of challenge.  Attempts to eliminate frustration from the game may defeat the gameplay itself  Designer’s real enemy is not frustration itself, but anxiety and functional fixedness  In most cases, there are simple ways to find a good solution without eliminating challenge
    24. 24. References  Wolfgang Kohler – The Mentality of Apes  Abraham Maslow – A Theory of Human Motivation  Karl Duncker – On Problem Solving  http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/psych26/kohler.htm  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPz6uvIbWZE  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_fixedness

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