Various forms of social networks
ranging from MySpace to Match.com are turned to connect people and encourage
meaningful relationships. As highly social animals, people find almost
any interpersonal interaction to be highly meaningful.
- Systems for bringing
people together: The surveys on dating sites help connect people
of similar interests. There is interesting work going on analyzing the
hubs of various social networks and setting up events that causes hub
roles to collide with one another, smashing together entire social groups
for immense dramatic effect.
- System for maintaining
relationships: Existing relationships must be groomed through the
use of gifts, notes and idle chatter. Systems like Twitter or the newsfeed
in Facebooks are excellent examples of these systems in action.
Make a game that replicate the joy of a good Tupperware party.(They
are so happy!)
Other interesting areas
These were areas that weren't
discussed as in depth, but also offer powerful techniques for mediating
the player's experiences.
- Reality television:
Reality television shows, ranging from moderately mediated examples
like Survivor to heavily mediated competitions like Dancing with the
Stars, offer inspired example of how to use environmental and psychological
manipulation to create intense human drama. As ratings demonstrate,
a real person actually falling in love can be more appealing than an
actor pretending to fall in love.
Throughout history, various religious and cultural groups have used
ritual to create deeply meaningful experiences that resonate across
generations. One topic we discussed was Aztec sacrificial rituals
and their impact on an entire culture. With their intricate rules, reward
system and extensive use of the magic circle, they have many hallmarks
of a social game, albeit one with serious real world consequences. It
is worth studying what makes rituals so powerful and contemplate how
those lessons could be applied to games.
Models For Supporting Player Emotions
As we dig further in each of
the examples above, it becomes clear that there is an underlying psychology
behind many of the successful game systems. By understanding the science
of what we are attempting and then applying experimental methods, we
can ensure that our games product their intended effects by designer
choice, not accident.
There are numerous predictive
psychological models that we can adopt that help designers understand
how players will react to various stimuli.
- Theories of emotion:
What causes emotion within the player? There is a large body of academic
work that describes the connection between memory, recall, emotion and
decision making processes.
psychology: How do group dynamics evolve? Organizational psychology
is the study of groups and how change occurs within groups.
"Psychophysiological measures are often used to study emotion
and attention responses in response to stimuli. Loud startle tones,
emotionally charged pictures, videos, and tasks are presented and psychophysiological
measures are used to examine responses" -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychophysiology
- AI modeling of
players: Many of these academic techniques gain immense value when
they are turned into AI routines that attempt to predict the player's
behavior. Instead of turning loose a hundred players in a new
level, you can instead turn loose a hundred AI driven bots. For many
situations like line of sight modeling or even prediction of how social
networks evolve, AI's are remarkably effective at generating short term
Basic game design is a highly
iterative activity that requires the designer to make educated predictions,
test those predictions and then adjust the design. Unfortunately, our
measurement techniques are currently quite crude.
The direct measurement of emotion through biofeedback systems can give
designers a detailed understanding of how individual players experience
the game. Skin conductivity and heart rate variance are two promising
- Skill chain-based
logging: The indirect measurement of fun by logging the player's
interaction with known learning opportunities can alert the designer
to flaws in the flow of the game. This technique works well across large
populations of players.
- Social graphs:
Many social networks contain an immense amount of information about
who each player interacts with, how long they interact and what key
words they use. This data can be fed directly into a reputation-focused
AI model and used to tune the AI so that it becomes incredibly good
at predicting what will happen. Imagine being able to get an overview
of guild conflict or player defections a day or more in advance. In
effect, you can predict the social weather of your online game with