READING NOTES #3

Creating a perfectly level playing field is a complicated challenge.
a): Describe a game that you believe is perfectly balanced (provides a perfectly level playing field)

I personally have never played any game that is perfectly balanced – the closest one I feel is Mario Kart (although players have to choose different characters with different abilities to race), where all the players start at the same time and have equal chance of getting bonus boxes, bumping other players’ karts, and still have equal chance of winning.
b): Describe a game that you believe is un-balanced.

One of my favorite games that are totally un-balanced is Smallworld. I love how the players get to choose different race at the start of the game. Each race has different special ability that can benefit the players (especially when combined with a great power badge). This game requires a lot of strategy planning; maybe you can start your game by choosing to be Halflings so you can start conquering regions from anywhere on the board, or you might choose to be Ratmen because that way you get a lot of tokens to start conquering as many regions as you can o during your turn etc.
c): What are your thoughts about asymmetrical games such as Starcraft, Axis and Allies, Soul Caliber, Tekken, or World of Warcraft, which create inherently uneven playing fields but in turn provide diverse play experiences and strategies for the opposing sides?

I think those asymmetrical games gives a lot of excitement. Each game is different every time. You can choose not to use the same strategy over and over, and you develop new strategies against the opposing side all the time. I also believe the asymmetry gives the game more replay value, and it adds more variety to the game play. You can come back and play on different races and it certainly is more fun that way.

 

Roger Caillios’ system for game categories includes the following terms: Agon, Alea, Mimicry, Ilinx, Paida, and Ludus. Choose 5 games that are not mentioned in the reading and and categorize them according to Callios’ terms (see ROP pg 306 for an example of the table). You may want to create hybrid categories as some games involve multiple types of game play experiences.

Paida Ilinx : Elephant Spin – wrapping one arm around another, from the arm that goes underneath, use that hand to touch the nose (make it look like an elephant trunk), bend down until the arm that’s not touching the nose touch the ground and spin around for maybe 5-10 times (depending on the game you’re playing). This will make you lose balance afterward.

Ludas Mimicry : LARPing ­­– live action role playing game where all players literally act out their roles and interact with each other, while trying to accomplish some kind of goal.

Ludas Agon : Soccer, or any form of sports I think fit under this category.

Alea : Slot Machine or many of the casino games, The Game of Life I think is heavily chance-based game.

Another game, Smallworld, is the game that can fit under many categories:

Alea – somewhat chance-based from all the special ability cards being shuffled

Mimicry – players choose what kind of characters they will be playing

Agon – players are playing for the win, they also have a chance to make decision to turn their characters in decline.

 

In trying to quantify elusive and subjective terms like “fun” the authors reference several “typologies of pleasure”, one particularly compelling model is Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow. Briefly describe the general theory behind flow and how it may be useful for designing and evaluating games.

The theory behind flow, according to the reading, is basically an emotional and psychological happiness resulting from deeply engaged experience of playing game. It is very useful for game design because it can be used to evaluate whether the game has a solid mechanics to it. The first thing that game players will seek for is how enjoyable the game is, do they have a chance of completing the game, would they be able to bury themselves into the gameplay and forget about who they are in real life. These are all the elements that any game designer should take into account when designing a game. Games that have good flow should provide all of those to players.