sexta-feira, 28 de março de 2014

Types of failure in games

Recently, I finished the awesome book by Jesper Juul named “The Art of Failure”. This book is a great inspiration for game designers, game researchers and game lovers of all platforms. The idea about the “the pain of playing video games” gives us a new view on failure and on how to create entertainment from it (which is considered a bad thing in the real world).

There are two details I want to bring into this discussion right now: the first one is about the two types of failure. As Jull says (2013, p.25) we can find the “real failure” and the “fictional failure”: the “real failure occurs when a player invests time into playing a game and fails” and the “fictional failure is what befalls the character(s) in the fictional game world” *SPOILER ALERT* (Like in Red Dead Redemption. You need to die with John Marston to continue the narrative).

The second point to highlight is about the idea that we are “emotionally affected by games, and we are aware of this before we start playing” (JUUL, 2013, p.56). This means that games arouse feelings in players and can create a strange connection during the gaming experience working with feelings like happiness, anger, frustration, fear etc. To understand the interface between the game and the player’s emotions is a great step to create new kinds of gaming experiences. Maybe a new door to be opened to new sensations inside the ludic universe.


JUUL, Jesper. The Art of Failure: an essay on the pain of playing video games. Cambridge/London: MIT Press, 2013.

quarta-feira, 19 de março de 2014

The art of making friendly enemies

I participate in a group called Board Game Tuesday (or BGT). We meet weekly to play and discuss board games. Our primary focus is the playing, but we always set aside a time to analyze the structure of the games (mechanics, dynamics, art, components etc.).

However, I quite like to analyze the behavior of players during matches. I like to observe the nervousness to roll the dice for something important, the glory in the eyes of a player with a well-structured combo of cards, the malignant partnerships between players and – of course – arguments and "fights" because of the final results of a gaming experience.

(Playing ISLA DORADA. Big, Vince & Snow. Pic: Estevão)

This last feature, particularly, impresses me. The “magic circle” of a game has the power to transform friends in enemies with established social rules (and gaming rules). As Juul says (2013, p.11) “when playing a game, a number of actions that would regularly be awkward and rude are recast as pleasant and sociable”. So, we can say that a game can generate a kind of friendly enemies during the time of a match.

About this context Juul (2013, p.14) also says that, to play a game is “to make an emotional gamble: we invest time and self-esteem in the hopes that it will pay off. Players are not willing to run the same amount of risk – some even prefer not to run a risk at all, not to play”.

The gaming ecosystem is a complex and privileged field of studies. But we must never forget that behind a game there are human players full of feelings and this is an important part of the experience to observe, analyze and discuss.

At this moment, I’m reading again Jesper Juul’s “The Art of Failure” and Bernad Suits “The Grasshopper”. I’m full of new ideas about the role of the player inside the gaming universe and I count on this inspiration for a “wave” of posts with this subject this semester.

Keep your radars alert for that.


JUUL, Jesper. The Art of Failure: an essay on the pain of playing video games. Cambridge/London: MIT Press, 2013.

SUITS, Bernard. The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. EUA: Broadview Press, 2005.