Game designers are better at psychology than psychologists
Jane McGonigal, games designer extraordinaire, has long pointed out that games are better designed than most jobs. I agree with her, but oddly I still prefer work.
Nonetheless, agreeing that games designers make better use of work psychology than psychologists do, I’ve been deliberately playing games from beginning to end.
Orientation that gives control back to the audience
Getting into games, the autonomy dimension of Ryan & Deci’s ARC model is clear. We need to be be able to see what to do at glance. We shouldn’t need elaborate instructions or encouragement.
Something for the audience to get their teeth into
I am stepping through the levels quite doggedly. That should be the competence dimension of Ryan & Dec’s model. In truth, games are quite fun while I am figuring out the rules – or when I think I can push myself to a new level. But they also get boring quickly. Dogged is the feeling I have!
A way for us to play together
I think I don’t use the social aspects of games sufficiently. Social or relationships, is the third component of Ryan & Deci’s ARC model.
I am probably not very sociable because my motives for playing games aren’t social. But, equally, I probably get bored quickly because I am not being sociable.
Bringing our own rules to the game
What has interested me more has been the way my preconceptions affect my game play
In a game in which I played the role of explorer in Africa, it took me a long while to realize that I could deliberately kill people and even longer to do it.
In Mafia Wars running on Facebook, I am yet to start a fight. I am yet to invest in armor. I only do jobs against an anonymous enemy. When someone attacks me, I just clean up and take out some more insurance.
In Farmeville, I would like to share my tractor.
Does social mean more than sending gifts and energy bonuses? Are our ‘identities’ and ‘values’ also important to us?
Sometimes it is useful to have our values challenged. Sometimes it is useful to see that we impose rules that other people don’t care about.
Then we have a choice. Do we want to play by those rules? Maybe we do.
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