The Infamous Noob

August 15, 2010

Believing in Magic

Filed under: Design, Games, Real Life — infamousnoob @ 7:27 pm

What makes a game transform from numbers and letters on bits of paper and cardboard into something that has a dedicated and fanatical following? I think it can be boiled down to a belief in something magical. If a game (or anything for that matter) can draw you into its world and be self-consistent enough that it always makes sense, then you believe it.

I think this extends beyond the realm of games and into everyday things. People (in the U.S. at least) associate certain events with monumental changes in life: high school graduation, college graduation,Ā marriage, new jobs, having kids, etc. In reality, however, these events don’t necessarily cause a change in lifestyle. But because there’s this expectation that things will magically change, we unconsciously work to shape them into what we expect.

This belief is what keeps the game world turning. As long as there is an expectation that certain things will happen, and that expectation is never directly contradicted, then people are happy. For example, if your game allows every player to win as long as they do an arbitrary amount of trivial things, then as long as there is an available path to win, they won’t care if they actually do. This is particularly evident in MMOs. Everyone has the opportunity to be an “endgame” player, but most aren’t. They know how to be one, and the pieces are all available, but they simply don’t utilize them. The same is true of single player games that people just don’t get around to finishing.

Immersion is the key to keeping an active player base. Create a world that is complete in every way, and as long as it’s consistent, it will be popular.


1 Comment »

  1. This is what makes the great games, and other things like books, great. I also think this is why the classics continue to remain classics even with huge advances in technology that should make games more immersive. When there are more distraction, like more buttons on a controller or more possible actions for your character, it gets harder to maintain the immersion. I think that a better use of technology for almost every game developer is using it to make game development easier so you can focus on the immersion rather than trying to make the game more visually impressive or physically accurate or trying to introduce so kind of buzzword technology so that you can say that only computers from next year will be able to run your game.

    Comment by Alan — August 17, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

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