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Log: Eliminating the feeling of not being in control

by Marius Holstad on 12/03/13 02:03:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command
to influence your own situation


What triggers the feeling of being in control?
When you can express yourself the way you want to... No, when you are genuinely listened to...? 
Let's re-state that; when you are genuinely listened to, you feel in control? You feel in control over the conversation at least, and that is what a game is: a conversation between the player and the machine.


What triggers the feeling of not being in control?
I think this feeling actually arises from not being able to express yourself (at least more than not being listened to.) You feel restrained and ignored.


So what we have here is a problem with the I/O structure of games, but more importantly the processing of that information.


Interestingly, this seems to be the problem for new players too. The way we interact with the computer seems to be an unnatural one (no shit.)


So the things that need to be fixed before games really can show their full potential is:
The way we interact with computers
The range of actions we can input
The way the computer interprets our input
And what the computer outputs to us
(This is basically everything)


So games are about play (add some complex definition here), what is the natural way to communicate (input) play?
In my childhood I played using my whole body, I was using my body language to play. As I grew older, I shifted towards using my fingers to write, draw and make things. Here it seems that the representations of my imagination was the star, not my earthly body.
So we like to project our imagination into "puppets", and manipulate them using our fingers (no wonder we use game pads.) But one thing to note is that I would use my voice to narrate or explain my actions.
We have no way to effectively tell the computer the meaning of our actions.


So what I was originally trying to answer was how to eliminate the feeling of not being in control. And one aspect of that is that we can't express the meaning of our actions to the computer. Voice is our most effective tool for communication, but I for one would not enjoy talking myself through a game, so there must be a way to do this without using our voice.


I would say limiting what players can do to a manageable amount and streamlining the game's response to ease interruption is, right now, the quickest way to (at least) reduce the feeling of not being in control.


Next up is something I talked about in my last log, how do you reveal truths about the human condition in a game?


And at some point I will address the issue of not being able to effectively communicate the meaning of our actions to the computer.

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