Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Koster and Emotion

So, Koster and Bateman are having a friendly non-conversation on their respective sites.

I'm interested because they're talking about Koster's theory, which is similar to mine in most respects. But, you know, I'm just about the only commenter on their posts, which makes me feel very nervous. There should be dozens of designers and would-be designers reading and posting - both Koster and Bateman have written well-respected books on game design. Bloglines shows them as being astonishingly non-popular, with no more subscribers than me.

I don't know what's going on - maybe they're just terrifically bad at getting people to notice their blog. But since it makes me uncomfortable, I'm not going to start up a conversation in their commentary.

Here is one of Koster's most recent posts. You can read the post, if you like, but my interest is in the comments, where it's just me and Koster.

I'm big on emotion. Koster says he just kind of takes it for granted because it's obvious.

Obvious or not, it is an integral part of making any game design - or, in fact, any kind of design at all. What the player has invested in a given system will determine what kind of depth and detail he will want out of that system.

For example, Machine City has a lot of side information you can get. People who enjoy the genre, people who like RPGs - these people will want to read that information and will have an almost unlimited capacity for it, paced properly. On the other hand, a lot of players don't like that sort of thing, and will be irritated and bored if I force it on them.

This is one of the core tenets of Pattern Adaptation Control. You want to use patterns which affect the player strongly, and to do that you need to measure what kind of play they like.

As you can see, my whole approach orbits around emotion and interest.

But I don't think I'll clutter up their commentary with posts of this type. After all, they have no investment in me or my ideas, so they are unlikely to have much interest in reading them.


Raph said...

Well, I just relaunched my site and blog a few days ago after a couple of years of inactivity, so yeah, I wouldn't expect to have a lot of subscribers yet. :) I think most folks don't know I am there yet.

Having conversations in the comment would HELP quite a lot, I think! I do want to read stuff like what you just posted, and doing constant Technorati/Blogpulse/icerocket/Goggle searches is annoying. :)

I don't mean that I take emotion for granted, btw. Obviously, I regard fun itself as as one emotion, so to me when I stated in the book that different people will have different ideal types of fun, mechanics that drive to fun, etc, I am dealing in the territory of emotional response.

Nicole Lazzaro is of course the person who has done the most empirical analysis of emotional responses to game stimuli; I won't pretend to be nearly as informed on the matter as she is. But certainly she's shown that specific mechanics and presentations elicit different emotions in a fairly predictable way. What we don't have yet is a clear understanding of the causal effect there.

In AToF I didn't spend a lot of time on "the dressing," which is where a lot of the emotional response beyond just fun comes from. I'm starting to outline a new book which would delve much more deeply into that side of things.

Craig Perko said...

Thanks for posting.

I've read Lazzaro's paper, but I'm not referring to responses to game stimuli. At least, I'm not limiting myself to those kinds of responses.

For example, a lot of players come into the game knowing exactly what they want. That's not a response you can control, but it is a response you can take advantage of.

I'm not even really talking about emotions involving ludic experiences, in specific. Limiting yourself solely to emotions that have a ludic base is, to me, needless. Especially since ludic experiences can be so easily tied into non-ludic emotions.

That's really what I'm trying to talk about, and that's really what I'm trying to accomplish. :)

I look forward to your next book. I hope it has nitty-gritty details. I love nitty-gritty details.