domingo, 1 de maio de 2016

What do players want?

The exercise of game designing is not an easy challenge. Behind the gameplay, beta test sessions, prototypes, interviews with beta testers, meetings, information architecture and gaming art lies a player filled with emotions, wishes, wills and a great desire to experience something unique in their life.

Game Expo Bratislava 2016 - foto by @vincevader

So, this post’s question is: what does a player want when are experiencing a game (and here we are talking about any kind of game: blockbusters and indies)? It's a pretty broad question and, in my humble opinion, impossible to be answered in a simple blog post. However, we can find great insights from gaming theory.

Rose III (2001, p.2-18) in his book “Game design: theory & practice” elaborated a very interesting list trying to answer some questions from the player’s side. About the theme “what players want and expect”, the author has some good points that I’ll reproduce and comment below:

1. Players want a challenge
2. Players want to socialize
3. Players want a dynamic solitaire experience
4. Players want bragging rights
5. Players want an emotional experience
6. Players want to fantasize
7. Players expect a consistent world
8. Players expect to understand the game-world’s bounds
9. Players expect reasonable solutions to work
10. Players expect direction
11. Players expect to accomplish a task incrementally
12. Players expect to be immersed
13. Players expect to fail (this point creates good dialogue with the first one)
14. Players expect a fair chance
15. Players expect to not need to repeat themselves
16. Players expect to not get hopelessly stuck
17. Players expect to do, not to watch

Let’s take Star Wars Battlefront (EA DICE, 2015) as an example. Players want challenges to play online or the possibility to play alone if the Internet fails. In this gaming ecosystem, to achieve better rankings works as a very important symbolic currency. The Star Wars universe offers a consistent world and the game has clear rules about how you can up your level, buy equipment, kill an enemy etc. There are tutorials to teach each new movement in the game. From time to time, EA DICE launches new maps, new characters and new challenges to keep the community engaged and immersed in the experience. A player can play in a professional level or just for fun. The Star Wars brand surely helps a lot in the marketing success, but the details and the strategic game thinking behind the production is the point to highlight in this discussion.

With good humor, Rose III (2001, p.18) ends this chapter from his book with the following thinking: “Players do not know what they want, but they know it when they see it”.

This list is a brief example of a universe of possibilities. So, the games studies need to be more and more interdisciplinary. Different views on the same subject could generate good ways to research and develop.



ROUSE III, Richard. Game design: theory & practice. Texas: Wordware Publishing, 2001.

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