Why Elegance Matters: The Lifecycle of Games

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Editor’s Note: Hello all! Since I’m done with my book and Auros finally out, I can get back to writing game design articles, and I’ve currently got a few in the pipeline. Today, however, I have a great guest article from Fabian Fischer. Fabian has a German-language game design blog of his own over at Nachtfischer’s Ludokultur. Enjoy!

Many modern videogames are content-based. They can be “beaten” or “completed” and have, once started, a more or less strictly defined “expiration date”. Some tell a linear story, others provide a set number of pre-built levels. What they all have in common is that their lifecycle, the period of time during which they are able to provide “fun” or value to the player, is directly dependent on the amount of content included. Once the player literally “sees it all”, there’s no more enjoyment to be had and it’s time to buy the next title. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are systemically complex games of strategic decision-making, which are usually much more replayable and therefore tend to follow a match structure: You win or lose and then play again. But even these games are not infinitely interesting. It’s just that the player determines when they stop providing value and then decides to stop playing. The following article takes a closer look at this decision-making process and the involved factors, making a case for elegance, depth and efficiency in game design. Continue reading “Why Elegance Matters: The Lifecycle of Games”