It is all about the experience! Player experience in game design

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My presentation at Microsoft Game Dev Camp 2014. I talked about the importance of player experience and the need to focus on the experience when designing games. I added some discussion regarding what constitutes a good experience and the importance of progression.

Transcript of It is all about the experience! Player experience in game design

  • It is all about the experience player experience in game design Rui Prada (IST, SPCV)
  • Who is this guy? Professor at Ins,tuto Superior Tcnico Dep. Computer Science and Engineering Applica,on Area on Games h5p:// 7 years, 2 courses >200 students, > 50 game prototypes
  • Who is this guy? Sociedade Portuguesa de Cincias dos Videojogos (Est. 2009) Co-Founder and Current President Promo,ng Knowledge and understanding CollaboraHon of peers Teaching and research
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  • Who is this guy? Author of Design e Desenvolvimento de Jogos Carlos MarHnho, Pedro Santos, Rui Prada FCA, 2014 h5ps://
  • Who is this guy? Avid Player Game Collector h5ps://
  • Player Experience h5ps://
  • Experience? Why? Games are means to live experiences Voluntary Subjec,ve Gameplay Experience Game Designer Player
  • Experience? Why? Design for the experience A good game is one the promotes a good experience Gameplay Experience Game Designer Player
  • 1. Doing/Performing 2. Feeling/Assessing 3. Remembering/Learning Experience? What?
  • Fulll a dream Do something that cannot be done Feel special Live and acquire something unique Player Experience
  • Doing/Performing Create moHvaHon, opportuniHes, incenHves for acHon Feeling/Assessing Promote interesHng choices Dene consequences of choices Remembering/Learning Promote re-use and combinaHon Crafting the Experience
  • Pleasure h5p://
  • A good experience elicits pleasure Brain rewards desirable situaHons and behaviours A Good Experience
  • Achievement. Achieve milestones, nish tasks. Power. Have an impact on the world, improve skill. Alia,on. Maintain posiHve interacHons with others. Avoidance. Self-preservaHon, seeking certainty. Balance Novelty and Control Pleasure: Satisfaction of Needs
  • Internal sensa,ons linked to assessment of situaHons People have needs of emo,onal regula,on (to relax or get excited) Regulate engagement (a5enHon and moHvaHon) Pleasure: Emotions
  • If something has emo,onal impact it is relevant! Emotions and Engagement
  • Primary Emotions a. b. c. d. e. f. Anger Fear Disgust Surprise Happiness Sadness
  • Achieve a desirable situaHon Complete a level Give the players what they desire Nice rewards (e.g. rare items) Achieve an undesirable situaHon Lose something important Lose an opportunity Stronger if the situaHon is irreversible Eliciting Emotions
  • Obstruct/deny players goals Hurt/damage what they like The blame is not a5ributed enHrely to the self Belief that the situaHon is recoverable Promote anHcipaHon of an undesirable situaHon Threaten what is important for the player Creates tension PotenHates other emoHons (e.g. Happiness) Eliciting Emotions
  • Create unexpected situaHons Framed in the expectaHons of players and uncertainty PosiHve surprises: the situaHon becomes be5er NegaHve surprises: the situaHon becomes worst Create uncomfortable situaHons Not clearly undesirable, but probably to avoid Social disgust: related to social values Eliciting Emotions
  • All emoHons ma5er Go beyond primary emoHons Social emo,ons (Guilt, shame, pride, love) Which Emotions?
  • Playing is a learning ac,vity (players learn controls, mechanics, strategies, story) Pleasure: Learning
  • Support learning in your game Balance guidance and self-explora,on Learning
  • The experience is ruined if There is nothing to learn It is impossible to learn (noise, sensory overload) There is no interest in the things learnt (are not applied in the game) Learning
  • Visceral: moHon, heat, relaxaHon Cogni,ve: problem solving, memory challenges Social: social status, sense of belonging, interacHng with others Moral: follow ideals, moral code Types of Pleasure
  • Sensa,on: game as sensory pleasure Fantasy: game as make believe Narra,ve: game as drama Challenge: game as obstacle course Fellowship: game as social framework Discovery: game as uncharted territory Expression: game as self-discovery Submission: game as pasHme Types of Pleasure (MDA)
  • Progression h5ps://
  • The experience changes with Hme Progression
  • Selec,on: build expectaHons Assump,on: establish grounds based on previous experience (genre, world metaphors) Abstrac,on: idenHfy the mechanics, (dis)conrm assumpHons Strategy: build strategies combining the mechanics Reduc,on: ignore irrelevant informaHon Phases of the Experience
  • Challenge and Novelty (keep the learning) Managing the Progression
  • The Flow Degree of Challenge Skill Level Anxiety Boredom Flow Channel Experience
  • Design the experience considering ,me (play sessions, replays) The Experience Through Time
  • Dene ,me steps (storyboard): the beginning, the mid game, the end For each dene: what to do, how to feel and what to remember. The Experience Matrix
  • Games as Communication Tools
  • Theme (subject) Thesis (perspecHve, an idea) Game conveys the message Game Design as Communication
  • Theme and Thesis h5ps:// h5ps:// h5ps:// h5ps://
  • Supports the meaning of the experience Establish a culture (interests, values, symbols, heroes,) Bound the dreams that the game supports Theme and Thesis
  • Gameplay is crucial for the experience The presenta,on is important as well Theme and Presentation
  • Players are not all Alike h5ps://
  • A good game is one that promotes a good experience Satisfaction of needs, emotional impact, learning Well balanced in time Meaningful message Rui Prada