For today's Gamasutra feature
, James Portnow, master's student at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology department takes a look at risk, an important defining factor of any game experience.
Portnow breaks down the delicate balance of risk and reward and at the dangers of falling too easily into designing the "safe game": one where insubstantial reward is doled out at regular intervals to overcompensate for improperly balanced design.
Portnow defines risk in his intro:
"Risk is one of the most important and most confusing factors in gaming today. It affects every game we play and every game we create. It helps us define the "casual" player and the "hardcore" player. It is one of the key factors in what makes a game too tedious to play or too easy to endure. It is an inescapable part of the concept of 'game', and yet, too often, it seems barely considered.
What is risk? Let us define risk as that which the player stands to lose if they lose at a game. This can be something as simple as losing your quarters at an arcade to something as devious as crippling your character's right arm and making you find ways to get through the game using only actions which don't require it."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the topic
, including more insight from Portnow on including risk into a design as an active element (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).