Contests Explained

I have described the four essential “forms” of interactive entertainment, based on four distinct values that these four types of play produce. You can get a more in-depth introduction on these forms by reading this, but I’ll quickly break it down here.

First, you start off with a “bare interactive system” – this is an interactive system that has no goal. I call this the toy. Add a goal, and you have a puzzle. Allow for measurement, and you have a contest. Obfuscate the gamestate (allowing for decision-making) and you have a game.

I would say that the vast majority of people roughly agree with me on the first two forms, toy and puzzle. This makes sense – it makes sense that we would understand these forms first, because they are the simplest. Continue reading “Contests Explained”

Clockwork Game Design Podcast – Episode 2: Distractions

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Episode 2, already!? Yep! I spent essentially all day one day recording both of these episodes, because I wanted to really get the ball rolling. It’s kind of annoying to have just one episode of a podcast, I feel like.

Today’s episode deals with the distractions and other obstacles that have slowed our growth in the path to progress in game design. I think I’ve gotten much more into the groove with this episode – now with fewer “ums” and less housekeeping!

Here’s a few things I said I’d link to in the show notes:

Greg Costikyan’s “I Have No Words & I Must Design”

Richard Terrell’s old site – also, his new site.

For those who want a direct feed URL, go here: http://keithburgun.net/feed/podcast/

As always, please let me know what you think of the episode. And if you’d like to support the show, visit http://www.patreon.com/keithburgun.

 

Game Placebo

Homeopathy, for those who don’t know, is a form of alternative “medicine”.  It involves diluting an active medicinal ingredient into a solution so many times that there ends up being a mathematically near-zero chance of the solution containing even a single molecule of the active ingredient. Yet the United States spent 3.1 billion on homeopathic products in 2007, which can seem pretty strange to someone who understands what it really is.

Now, clearly homeopathy doesn’t “work” in the sense of having actual medicinal effects.  Homeopaths have tried to claim that it does by conjuring all sorts of bizarre theories, one of the most common being that “water has a memory” – it can “remember” the molecules that used to be in it, and somehow that memory has an effect. Whatever – pretty obviously nonsense but that’s not what concerns me here.

Delicious. It’s impossible for anyone to tell the difference between pure sugar pills and homeopathic drugs. That’s because they are the exact same thing.

What does interest me is the fact that homeopathy does work in the sense that people think it works. The placebo effect is very powerful (for some kinds of ailments, anyway), and having a “school of medicine” with practitioners all telling you that this sugar pill will stop your headache may alleviate the pain, since pain is understood to be a highly subjective sense that can be affected by the state of mind of a person.  The simple concept that “you’re being taken care of now, everything will be OK” may bring comfort to that person.  Here’s a really great Derren Brown video showing the great power of placebo. Continue reading “Game Placebo”