Game on Demand #1 – Sense of direction

Don’t lose direction!

Welcome Gamers and Players,

today we’ll continue in step to step tutorial to create your Game on Demand. This post is about brainstorming and making the first draft. So, I try to give suggestion and advice to manage this crucial, very chaotic phase.

After analysis, you have to brainstorm and write down the first idea for your game. I guess you’re waiting for a practical scheme: forget it. Unfortunately, there is no unique way to create a game.

In fact, any game differ from other, also is usually, people categorize games, to talk about “board games”, “cooperative games”, “mobile games” and so on.

Thus name symbolize an approach similar to art critique. You find out what’s in common between games to categorize them. Unfortunately, “gaming” is often social, and group dynamics can affect the game deeply. Sometimes the same game is played in very different ways. This point also include the fact that your player, for sure, will try to “hack” the game (see this Bunchball articles here for reference), something that maybe you can use (do you know hack contest? They are used to test system, and are no more than a form of gamification – competition – to outsource a process – testing defense – to a specific kind of users).

All this word to say; the direction, the concept, the root, the corner-stone of your game is totally on you. When brainstorming, let all the opportunities open. Keep and eye on requirement previously written (see #0). Also, if happens to have a great idea (“uh! That’s will be an awesome mobile game!”), don’t follow strictly this first impression.

Other useful advice are the following.

  • You have to first focus upon the kind of structure you need, and not how creating it. Probably, there are a lot of game that can do what your business needs: your skill to choose does not have to rely upon “impression” and “first idea”. You have to remember very well what is your final target.
  • It is very important to know how to switch and change your point of view upon “what the players will do”, until you’re sure you are highlighting the dynamics and structure you’re interested in. Maybe you’re trying to create a puzzle to solve problems, but collaboration game can do it better: then DO it!
  • This is also the reason why a good gamifier has a wide gaming knowledge, has to be updated about last issue and gaming news.
  • Remember: in-game design there is no fix boundaries; every classification between a kind of game and another is only a matter of time, knowledge and technology. What is single-player now can become multiplayer, what is strategic can become action and what is boring and slow can become fast and frenetic, what is a card game can become video game…. and so on.

To help you analyze the opportunities the you can choose from, here you find a brief list of “gaming techniques”. Those techniques are the driver to induce people playing. This isn’t complete, but it shows how to approach different kind of games and mechanics. The list contains either dynamics that induce people to play and/or have fun, and techniques to obtain that. In brainstorming moment you don’t need a sharp taxonomy.
The following list is also based upon different game theory: you don’t have to know the appropriate theory to use the statement (in fact, usually is better not knowing any if you want to be truly creative).

  • Marc LeBlanc’s 8 Kinds of Fun:
    Sensationengage your target senses directly. Consider the audio and video “eye candy” of video games; the tactile feel of the wooden roads and houses in Settlers of Catan; or the physical movement involved in playing sports, or any game on the Nintendo Wii.
    Fantasy games can provide a make-believe world  that is more interesting than the real world.
    Narrative – games can involve stories, (embedded by designers, or emergent created through player action).
    Challenge –  some games derive their fun largely from the thrill of competition.
    Fellowshipin many games with a high social component, the social interaction (with family, friends or online) in a strong motivator to keep playing.
    Discoverythe sense of wonder connected to find out something new, as in in adventure and role-playing video games.
    Expression – the possibility to express yourself through gameplay, like in Rpg game Dungeons & Dragons or open-world video games like The Sims or Oblivion or Fable.
    Submission – .building game interaction as an ongoing hobby rather than an isolated event. Usually applied to the tournament format (like in Magic: the Gathering) or creating guild a regular meetings (World of Warcraft) or even the ritualized play of games at a weekly meeting.
    Click here for more detailed info
  • 4 Key for fun
    Hard Fun: the attractiveness of go through hard obstacle and difficult task. The player play for the satisfaction of winning, against the game or other players.
    Easy Fun: maintains focus with player attention rather than a winning condition. Usually obtained by immersion in a game ambient perceived like “living”, and typical of many-options game
    Altered State: it used the feeling a player perceive when play, and focus on emotions. Having some easy time, clearing your mind, avoid boredom.. all are example of using this key.
    People Factor: game is often social The social is anything related to other people: teamwork, spending time with friend and any kind of possible social interaction (except competition – see “Hard Fun” above) is related to this key.
    Click here for detailed more info
  • Color Theory – I haven’t any references for this recent French game design theory. Briefly, it consider games as output of 3 basic element, like RGB color. Red stay for coherence: inner consistency of the system and the system with the setting. Green stay for easiness and simplicity, related specifically to learning curve. Blue is for realism, consistency of the game with reality.
    Any game can be divide into a combination of this tree “color”, to compare it with another or to change the gradient of some color and change the final game also.
    No english reference.
  • Callois Theory – one of my favoured, it divided game in 4 play forms and 2 types of play, based upon “what people seek in the game” and “how they play”. It is used as color theory to analyzed and check out your driver to make people play your game.
    Agon, or competition. E.g. Chess is an almost purely agonistic game.
    Alea, or chance. E.g. Playing a slot machine is an almost purely aleatory game.
    Mimicry, or mimesis, or role-playing.
    Ilinx (Greek for “whirlpool”), or vertigo, in the sense of altering perception. E.g. taking hallucinogens, riding roller coasters, children spinning until they fall down.
    The two types of play are ludus (games) and paidia (spontaneous activity): here we are obviously interested to the first one.
    Click here for detailed more info

Now I think you have a lot of stuff to brainstorm: see you in the next post, about how writing the Game System!


2 thoughts on “Game on Demand #1 – Sense of direction

  1. Pingback: Game on Demand #2 – Rock the System | Play for Business!

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