#GMS 9 : Appeal & Interest

Final Stage



In this article, we will try to go into detail in what brings « Teaching & Video Games concerns » closer together: making our target want to discover our content. Scholars have no other choice than to attend courses every day. Most of them undergo these courses instead of appreciating them. And schools can be a stressful environment at some point in your life.

But, we sometimes find teachers who can make you forget this feeling for a while and, it can happen that, in the best cases, they create a vocation, a passion that will be the fire of your career-to-be . Isn’t the transmission of this passion the quintessence of a teacher-student relationship? These teachers are able to capture your interest, to hook you to their content. What elements did they choose to place in their courses that made you change your point of view? Were they entertaining? Is it the substance of the content? the form?

All teachers in the same field are required to deliver the same teachings : as decided at the highest levels of national education every year. The difference is therefore in the « quality of their presentation », in their appealing ways of transmitting knowledge.

In the case of Video Games,  players are free to enter/leave the magic circle. To understand the issues and the growing importance appeal in video games, we must go back a little bit. It will also allow us to understand how Game Design has found its legitimate place in the industry. Back in the 80s, when NES came on the market, there were fewer players, fewer developers and fewer games published year-round than today. At that time, we designed games without really worrying too much about the notion of « gameplay quality » or « user experience ».

A video game was a paid product that was sold without « much » effort when it came out of the specialty stores and no one thought it was important to worry about these somewhat abstract notions. But with the rise of the industry and consequently of competition, it was necessary to find new weapons for this more and more lucrative activity. Thus, with so many economic stakes, the studios had to begin to take « guarantees » of quality during the pre-production phases. It was necessary to work more deeply and in detail, the gamefeel and understanding the keys to handle the user experience and Game Design arrived at that time to become a well-deserved in the game industry.

Today, here’s a pretty frightening statement: Thousands of games are accessible via our smartphones at any time, anywhere on the planet. How many players are still finishing a video game? How much time will they spend on your game? An existential question remains forever for the developers: How to attract a player? How to make him:

  1. see the game in the crowded market
  2. look at the game icon and click on it
  3. watch the trailer, in game footage, banner, description to buy / download it
  4. hook by his « first play » so that he plays long enough to have a good opinion of the studio productions and « awaits » for the next projects

All of these issues will directly impact the revenues and future of a video game studio. To get the player to have a long enough interest in your game to finish it, you need to know how to accompany him every step of the way, every new mechanic, and make sure he enjoys learning more and more, just like teachers should for their students.

More generally, when we must transmit knowledge, how to interest the target at any stage of the exploration of this knowledge?

Through the concept of « Learning by Playing » the video game has the strength to train the player via the level design and the gameplay loop (Objective, Challenge, Reward) to discover while having fun step by step, the rules of the game. game, the mechanics, how they work and how they are connected. In this exploration, the player must always keep his bearings, have all the necessary weapons to identify simple patterns to use them to solve problems, and know what are the game goals in the short, medium and long term. There is a word that perfectly illustrates this idea in English: « Conveyance ».

According to this wonderful source of information, What Games Are:

Conveyance is a technique for teaching the rules of a game, and the pattern of its dynamic, to the player without specifically telling her what to do. Conveyance relies on the player to learn simple lessons for which she then figures out more complicated uses, and so the process of grokking the game and learning the game become one and the same.

Though not always possible, successful conveyance is generally considered a sign of excellent game design because it does not break immersion.

To conclude, in « Making Learning Fun : A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning » (Malone,Lepper, 1987), Malone indentifies the first four intrinsic motivations in any learning situations : Challenge, curiosity, control, fantasy.  Do These key-words sound familiar to you ? Of course they do, they are strongly omnipresent in the gaming vocabulary !

There are so much common issues between didactics and game design. It’s a whole « new » field of experimentation, vast and rich and there is everything to do.

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