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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



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