Reading Notes #3

1)

A) One game that I believe is completely balanced is Valve’s Team Fortress 2 in it’s base form. All of the classes have a strength that perfectly equals another classes’ weakness. In turn, every single class has a weakness that can be exploited by another classes’ strength. For example, the Heavy class’s strength lies in the fact that he dishes out massive amounts of power and damage, but his weakness is his slow movement. This allows a class like the Scout, whose strength lies in his high mobility and speed to have a chance at taking him down. The Scout’s own downfall, however is his low damage output which allows the Heavy to still have a chance to take him down if the two engage each other.

B) A game that is unbalanced would be a game where ones’ own physical ability determines the chances of victory. Games such as the common school-yard game of tag and the household game Twister are games that I consider to be unbalanced. It was always hard for me to win at a game of tag because of my knee disabilities and I can safely say I have never experienced a balanced game of Twister due to my lack of flexibility. Other physical games, such as football and basketball have rules that are laid to be balanced, but when it is actually played out often times it comes to the physicality of the players. This is why it’s so common to hear a team “outlasting” their opponent or “overpowering” the other team’s defense. While the rules to these games are balanced, the actual gameplay is not.

C) Because I haven’t played any of those games, it took me some research and YouTubing to figure out how to adequately answer this question. I believe that played correctly, the asymmetricality of these games is almost perceived by the players. The different characters available in Tekken and Soul Caliber and the races in Starcraft (Terrans, Protoss, and Zergs) all seem to have their strengths and weaknesses. If played correctly and with enough practice, I believe players can eliminate this sense of asymmetrical gameplay. Much like how many people say certain weapons are overpowered in First Person Shooters, (such as the AWP in Counter Strike), they seem overpowered because people spend countless of hours perfecting their usage of that specific weapon. The same can be said to different characters in these games. Though many prefer to avoid the Terrans in Starcraft (so it seems?) I have read many testimonies that read similar to this one:

“This does not mean that Terran is better than the other races, or requires more skill, or is overpowered or underpowered. It also doesn’t mean that it’s easy to be good at the other races. It just means that the style of play requires more rote work to excel at, by its very nature.” -WorldEditor

http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/4363779351

2)

Mimicry and Ludus: Star Wars Galaxies, Garry’s Mod (Roleplaying Servers), Fallout

Paid and Agon: Tag, Hot Lava Monster

Paida and Ilinx: Chicken

Alea and Ludus: Monopoly, Yahtzee

Agon and Ludus: Football (soccer and American).

3) Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow is in essence an effort that games take to fully immerse the gamer into the environment that they are in when they are playing a game. This is done because to Csiksgentmihalyi, “Flow is, more than anything else, an emotional and psychological state of focused and engaged happiness, when a person feels a sense of achievement and accomplishment, and a greater sense of self.” Csikszentmihalyi states that a complete sense of flow can be achieved when the player becomes so absorbed in the activity that it becomes “spontaneous, almost automatic; they stop being aware of themselves as separate from the actions they are performing.” This helps demonstrate a complete sense of concentration at the game without the mind wandering onto other activities. Also, allowing the player to make meaningful decisions to give the illusion of exercising control (wherein reality they are not control of the situation at all) is another example of how flow can work. Perhaps the most familiar to all of us is the transformation of time, through which a player’s (or participant’s) awareness of time in reality stretches or shrinks. He uses a great example of how baseball, a sport that is often slow-paced and takes forever, is often enjoyed as a pastime with events that happen separate to equal intervals of duration. Detaching the player from the game world and the real world is the goal of flow, and the elements that allow this to happen are key aspects of flow.