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[THEORY] Is it possible to design uncompelling games? Playables: doomed to die??

Started by droqen, February 08, 2022, 09:43:05 AM

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QuoteThe book also introduces the term meme for a unit of human cultural evolution analogous to the gene, suggesting that such "selfish" replication may also model human culture, in a different sense.
The Selfish Gene - Wikipedia

Quote from: @droqenvideogames are not organisms, but videogame genres are.


I can read the plot summary of a book or film easier than I can read a book, or watch a film. The difference is that consuming the entire piece of media takes a lot more time. What keeps me spending time?

It isn't "fun" for books or films and likewise it isn't "fun" for games - though of course fun is a small piece of the puzzle, it is as simple as "anything that makes me not stop consuming it." Addictive, compelling, engaging... I don't like any of these words; our emotional landscape includes fun, suspense, even that strange cocktail of emotion that compels people to slow down and stare at car accidents on the side of the road... I guess that's morbid curiosity, which is a subcategory of curiosity.


I'll briefly explore a different term which has less negative connotations:


I think it's commonly understood that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that as humans we also have a broadly shared sense of beauty - not at the individual level... but at the group level, the statistical level.

(A quick lesson in statistics: supposing it's true that 33% of people find the Mona Lisa beautiful, the claim that "there is a 33% chance that if you look at the Mona Lisa you will find it beautiful" is basically nonsensical. This is, imo, a huge error that I see made all the time with regard to statistics. That is not how this sort of data works.)

Beautiful things tend to be those we enjoy being in the presence of, enjoy engaging with, in an enduring way; it places the onus off of us as observers. Generally one does not stop "finding something to be beautiful." Rather, it ceases to be beautiful. The beauty is a transient feature of the thing being admired, not a feature of the admirer.


Seen through this lens it's perhaps more understandable to me why I see addictive, compelling, and engaging in a worse light than beautiful... They place the focus on the reader, viewer, or player, as someone driven, by the work, to be addicted, compelled, engaged.

To say that a game is "compelling" feels like a statement devoid of useful meaning about the game - it's simply a statistical statement that "a reasonable proportion of people who played this game felt compelled by it."


But, all these words are highly useful at a high level, as a goal, as a means by which to understand what makes a videogame or any other work of art spread.

Ideas are creatures that live in the psychosocial medium of our minds, passed from person to person as well as from memory to memory, from thought to thought. Reading about a videogame is one sort of idea delivered via the written medium; playing that same videogame is often more ideas by several orders of magnitude, delivered via the played medium.

Hearing about someone's videogame idea is another set of ideas delivered via the oral medium.

Thinking about your own videogame idea is another set of ideas, too.


brr what am i writing? ? ?
i'd like to compress this all into a nice little tiny thing
anyway the point i want to remind myself of!

compelling aspects are fine!! if a game is not compelling, it is not played. it must be compelling to survive asking people to play it. that's what i think? sliding rocks across the ice is fun for a while but gets boring... even if it's still a fun activity. how do we make it more compelling? add a goal, add obstacles, add rules. not just any goals, any obstacles, any rules -- no, we add these things that make the activity more compelling.

the activity of sliding rocks across the ice is itself a prototype, not doing the above work of making a compelling act more compelling, but of taking individual elements (slidey ice, a rock) and creating an activity out of those elements