Game Design. Fundamental theory. Fundamental theory

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1 Game Design Fundamental theory Fundamental theory

2 Why theory? Why is fundamental theory important? It provides a structure to think in Thinking about game design without a structure is inefficient As if you re finding your way in the dark Lacking an overview of the situation Theory Fundamental theory 2

3 Game design theory Game design theory is still work-in-progress Young research field This lecture aims to provide future-proof theory Suitable for use in a game development context With an academic mindset Should be used in Assignment 2 and Assignment 3 Fundamental theory 3

4 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 WHAT IS A GAME? Fundamental theory 4

5 Definition of a game How do you define a game? Notorious issue amongst game academics Many definitions have been posed At least 15 by different well known game academics Let s investigate several Fundamental theory 5

6 Definition #1 A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman Fundamental theory 6

7 Definition #1 A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman So, is FIFA a game? Yes! Fundamental theory 7

8 Definition #1 A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman So, is soccer a game? Yes But what about professionals? Is their job a game? Fundamental theory 8

9 Definition #1 A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman So, is an exam a game? Yes? Fundamental theory 9

10 Definition #2 A game is an activity which is: Free (voluntary), separate [in time and space], uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe. Roger Caillois Fundamental theory 10

11 Definition #2 A game is an activity which is: Free (voluntary), separate [in time and space], uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe. Roger Caillois So, is Tic-tac-toe a game? Yes Fundamental theory 11

12 Definition #2 A game is an activity which is: Free (voluntary), separate [in time and space], uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe. Roger Caillois But what if it s played by two players who know the dominant strategy? The outcome is not uncertain So it s no longer a game? Fundamental theory 12

13 Definition #3 A game is a type of play activity, conducted in the context of a pretended reality, in which the participant(s) try to achieve at least one arbitrary, nontrivial goal by acting in accordance with rules. Ernest Adams Fundamental theory 13

14 Definition #3 A game is a type of play activity, conducted in the context of a pretended reality, in which the participant(s) try to achieve at least one arbitrary, nontrivial goal by acting in accordance with rules. Ernest Adams So, is Call of Duty a game? Yes Fundamental theory 14

15 Definition #3 A game is a type of play activity, conducted in the context of a pretended reality, in which the participant(s) try to achieve at least one arbitrary, nontrivial goal by acting in accordance with rules. Ernest Adams So, is Dear Esther a game? No? Fundamental theory 15

16 Dear Esther Dear Esther is a game where the player wanders over an island, investigate the landscape and hear fragments of a story. Is it a game? It won countless major game awards! Fundamental theory 16

17 Definition #4 A game is a series of interesting decisions. Sid Meier What are interesting decisions?! What a horrible mess is this definition chaos! Fundamental theory 17

18 What do you think? Fundamental theory 18

19 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 Fundamental theory 19

20 Intermezzo Let s look at definitions in general Why do we need a definition for game? We don t need definitions to design a game! But it does make communication more efficient Important to have a common vocabulary Fundamental theory 20

21 Definition pitfall #1 Pitfall #1: Moving the problem to another vague term A game is a series of interesting decisions. What is interesting? What exactly is a decision? Anything can be interesting Any action can be seen as a decision Such a definition does not solve the problem It masks it Fundamental theory 21

22 Definition pitfall #2 Pitfall #2: Exclusion Person 1: A game is a form of play with structure where you must achieve a goal Person 2: What about The Sims? It has no goal. Person 1: Then it s not a game Or the definition is wrong Fundamental theory 22

23 Definition pitfall #3 Pitfall #3: Overgeneralization Person 1: A game is a form of play with structure where you must achieve a goal Person 2: What about The Sims? It has no goal. Person 1: Experiencing the game itself is also a goal. So what s not a goal then? Goal becomes an empty criterion Fundamental theory 23

24 Definition A perfect definition should be 1. Clear Not vague 2. Inclusive Contain all the necessary things (necessity) 3. Exclusive Does not contain other things (sufficiency) Can be very difficult in practice Fundamental theory 24

25 Discussion pitfall Discussion pitfall: Differing definitions Person 1: I really like the narrative of Minecraft Person 2: Minecraft doesn t have a narrative?! Make sure to define disputable terms! Especially relevant for Assignment 3 (game analysis) Fundamental theory 25

26 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 WHAT IS A GAME? Fundamental theory 26

27 Definition of a game Back to the definition of a game Defining the term game is a political issue Definitions commonly try to protect the interest of their creator Personal preference for a type of game Protecting the gamer culture Professional working area Fundamental theory 27

28 Definition of a game Roughly four groups of opinions: 1. Focusing on rules/goals/challenge Can use the term toy for games outside their definition Ludologists 2. Games are mainly about narrative Narratologists 3. Very open, anything can be a game Often citing a statement by Wittgenstein that the term game cannot be defined 4. It depends on the players and the context And of course, anything in between Fundamental theory 28

29 Definition of a game Accept that there are multiple opinions Convincing others is not necessary This course does not impose a definition You can have/form your own definition But make sure to make your definitions explicit when you use them! Fundamental theory 29

30 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 THE MAGIC CIRCLE Fundamental theory 30

31 The magic circle Concept proposed by Johan Huizinga in 1938 Important property of games The boundary between the game and reality When entering the magic circle the player accepts the game as the temporary reality Inside the magic circle it feels safe to play Fundamental theory 31

32 The magic circle Example When playing the game Bioshock, the player accepts that (s)he s playing in an underwater world with supernatural powers. Objectively it seems ridiculous, but you suspend your disbelief to play. Fundamental theory 32

33 The magic circle Example When playing golf, the goal is to get the ball in the hole. When inside the magic circle, the player accepts the rules and doesn t just drop the ball in the hole. Fundamental theory 33

34 The magic circle There is a difference between real-life and play The magic circle is the boundary Write down examples showing this difference Fundamental theory 34

35 Immersion Immersion is part of the inside of the magic circle The magic circle is the boundary Fundamental theory 35

36 Consent The player has to know of the game and agree with it to be in the magic circle You cannot force people into a game The commotion about the game Roos-anne Bol Sometimes people want out of the circle When trauma s are triggered by a game Fundamental theory 36

37 Permeability Some things seep through the magic circle Real world consequences of a game Examples Buying and selling virtual goods for real money Learning things about the real-world Rome: Total War teaches about the Roman Empire The passing of time Fundamental theory 37

38 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 INGREDIENTS OF A GAME Fundamental theory 38

39 Ingredients of a game Important components in most games Rules Narrative Players Are they essential for a game? Debatable Conway s Game of Life Fundamental theory 39

40 Ingredients of a game Rules Focus of the two lectures next week Narrative Focus of the lecture thereafter Fundamental theory 40

41 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 MOTIVATION Fundamental theory 41

42 Why do we play? Why do we play games? Because it s fun! There are many types of fun Being challenged is fun Shooting and making explosions is fun Exploring an interesting place is fun Fundamental theory 42

43 Bartle types Categorization of MUD players by Bartle from 1996 What type of activity do they enjoy most? Fundamental theory 43

44 Roger Caillois Defined four forms of play in his 1961 book Man, Play and Games Agon competition Alea chance Mimicry role-playing Ilinx altering perceptions Fundamental theory 44

45 Self determination theory One of the most popular general motivation theories Extrinsic motivation Orders received from others Intrinsic motivation When you want to do something yourself Fundamental theory 45

46 Self determination theory Intrinsic motivation arises from one of three core needs Competence Skill Autonomy Freedom to create/discover/ Relatedness Social aspects Fundamental theory 46

47 MMORPG motivations In his 2006 paper, Nick Yee analyzed player reports Fundamental theory 47

48 MDA Framework The MDA framework defines 8 aesthetics By Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek A type of fun is called an aesthetic Has nothing to do with nice visuals 1. Sensation 2. Fantasy 3. Narrative 4. Challenge 5. Fellowship 6. Discovery 7. Expression 8. Submission Fundamental theory 48

49 MDA Framework The MDA framework is used by game designers Contains more than the types of fun Intuitive, flexible and complete model Based on experience Not academically grounded Fundamental theory 49

50 Motivation theories Many theories available Bartle Types Roger Caillois forms of play Self determination theory Nick Yee s MMORPG motivations MDA Framework We will focus on the MDA framework in this course Next lecture! Fundamental theory 50

51 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 CLASSIFICATION OF GAMES Fundamental theory 51

52 Game classification How can we group games into categories? Traditional genres Real-time strategy First-person shooter Role-playing game Platformer game Adventure game 50+ more Describes the external characteristics Fundamental theory 52

53 Genres Easy classification based on external similarity Grown historically this way Limited description of the content How similar are Splinter Cell and Tomb Raider? Both are action-adventure third-person shooters Splinter Cell has stealth, strategy and puzzle elements Tomb Raider has drama, survival and exploration elements Fundamental theory 53

54 Genres Not an ideal classification Will remain the main classification for a while Movies also have genres as classification Seem to do the job slightly better Far from perfect though Classification is not a problem unique to games Fundamental theory 54

55 Alternative classifications Classification on the type of game: Casual games, social games, pervasive games, What could be a better classification system? Fundamental theory 55

56 What is a game? Definition pitfalls The magic circle Ingredients of a game Motivation Classification of games Practical Assignment 2 PRACTICAL ASSIGNMENT 2 Fundamental theory 56

57 Practical assignment 2 Design, create and evaluate a game prototype One large cycle in the iterative design process Subtasks: 1. Formulate a game vision 2. Control feasibility and planning 3. Create prototype and design decisions 4. Prepare the playtesting 5. Conduct and evaluate the playtesting Fundamental theory 57

58 Todo s Read the assignment 2 document Start on P2.1 Vision document Start Friday with P2.2 Make a planning and check feasibility with TA Fundamental theory 58

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