Reading Notes 3 – Charlotte Hayden

Game Design 157 Reading Notes #3 – Charlotte Hayden ID#604146270

  1. a). No game is really “perfectly” balanced; there will always be some sort of flaw or even a tiny point on which they could be improved. I do think that games like Scrabble and Bananagram are well constructed and do a very good job of balancing the player’s strengths and skills against each other. The game is heavily depended on the player’s own existing vocabulary (and words looked up in the Scrabble dictionary), their ability to input specific words onto the board make them intertwine with words played, and of course it is also heavily dependent on the player’s strategic choices (placement, blocking, etc). I’d say those two games do a good job of balancing each player’s skills against each other, even though it isn’t perfect.

b). Twister is not a very balanced game (even though it is extremely fun) because it only depends on a player’s flexibility. It wasn’t designed to find a way to make the chances of stability and stretching equal or balanced for each player, so it is very easy for someone to have an advantage.

c). I think it’s a clever way to bring balance into an uneven playing field. In World of Warcraft, for example, player character powers and attributes are uneven, but that gives the player more power to develop their character and make more strategic choices within those specific confines.

  1. Agôn: Chess (two players compete to beat the other army and capture the king). Alea: Lottery (the drawing of a winning lottery ticket is probably one of, if not the biggest game of chance in the U.S.). Mimicry: Skyrim (a role-playing game in which your character is the Dragon Born and must battle monsters and complete quests). Ilinx: Skyrim also applies to Ilinx because it involves disorienting activities, such as climbing walls, navigating through winding tunnels, and fights in which your character staggers and is disoriented when struck. Paidea: SimCity is a video game that does not have an objective or set of rules for a player to follow; they are free to do as they please and entirely create their own world the way they want it. Ludus: Chess can also fall into this category because it has a clear objective; it is essentially the opposite of SimCity in the sense that SimCity gives the player complete control, while Chess only allows the player to work towards accomplishing the goal – capturing the opponent’s king.
  2. Briefly put, the Theory of Flow states that when people are fully engaged in a creative task, they will continue to do the task for as long as it is enjoyable and it makes them happy. Cziksentmihalyi also includes a checklist of things that contribute to this flow of pleasure, which includes having clear goals, feedback, one’s awareness of time diminishes, and skills are engaged. These are all important features in any game, for without them, people would not be interested enough to participate, and the game would be pointless. Games are so prized and special to most people because it is a way in which they can forget about their work or debt or daily stresses and immerse themselves in something “fun” that engages their brain – be it a role-playing game, Chess, a card game, etc. It is important that game makers include a clear objective and rules, players feel as if they have some sort of control over the outcome, and most importantly it must be an enjoyable experience, otherwise it simply becomes another stressful task.