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Game Design 1 (2013): Flow theory and how it applies to game design
 

Game Design 1 (2013): Flow theory and how it applies to game design

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What is flow and how can we use it to inform game design practice.

What is flow and how can we use it to inform game design practice.

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    Game Design 1 (2013): Flow theory and how it applies to game design Game Design 1 (2013): Flow theory and how it applies to game design Presentation Transcript

    • Game Design 1 Flow
    • What is Flow? • A theory of the “optimal experience” • that experience, you all know it - where you lose yourself, time disappears and you are completely immersed in your current activity. • being in the zone
    • • Hungarian psychology professor • studies happiness and creativity • his book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” (1990) is hugely influential
    • Flow • Csikszentmihalyi was fascinated with artists who would get ‘lost’ in their work. • But he realised that the same phenomenon was present in other fields - climbing, playing music, playing games, martial arts
    • Antecedants for Flow • One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress. • The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. • One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and his or her own perceived skills.
    • Experience of Flow • Intense focused concentration on present • merging of action and awareness • loss of reflective self-consciousness • strong sense of personal agency • distortion of temporal experience • experience is intrinsically rewarding
    • Flow and Games • Flow has been a key theory within games design since early 2000s. • Jenova Chen (Journey / Flower / Cloud) helped publicise the theory with his Flow game
    • Applying Flow to games • Characteristic 1: Games should have concrete goals with manageable rules. • “I'm lost. An NPC just told me what I was supposed to do, but I was distracted by the loot in the middle of the room and the Giant Spiders coming at me from all directions. It doesn't help that that I can't access the NPC anymore, or that all of the rooms in this dungeon are the same shape and color. Lost. I have no idea where to go or how I'm supposed to get there. Fifteen minutes pass before I find the puzzle I need to complete. But now I have no idea which of the 20 quest items in my inventory I should use to solve it. After a while, I give up in frustration.”
    • Why concrete goals? • We have limits on our information processing and attentional capabilities. • Our problem solving ability is affected by information processing and attentional issues. • Achievable, concrete goals are rewarding
    • Applying Flow to games • Characteristic 2: Games should only demand actions that fit within a player's capabilities. • I know I'm supposed to swipe in the opposite direction of the Fiend's attack. This should parry his attack, opening him up for my own counter. But I just can't do it. Whether it is lack of reflexes, or the fact that I just started playing the game, I'm hopelessly inept. I'm also seriously frustrated.
    • Why limit demands? • Stress and performance affect Flow. • Goal difficulty and player perseverance
    • Applying Flow to games • Characteristic 3: Games should give clear and timely feedback on player performance. • I did that right, right? Is the axe I just made actually in my inventory? Is this action adding to my enchantment abilities?
    • Why feedback? • Innate learning & conditioning mechanism • connects actions to goals
    • Applying Flow to games • Characteristic 4: Games should remove any extraneous information that inhibits concentration. • These animated spell and item icons across the bottom and top of my screen sure look cool! See the particle effects on my Ice Storm spell... Wait -- is someone attacking me?
    • Why restrict info? • Again, inherent limitations on information processing. • Working memory is 7(ish) items
    • Further Reading • http://j.mp/gd1flow