Playing is a natural activity. Animals and humans, regardless of age, religion, sex or country, play. We play principally for pleasure, either alone or in groups. However, the type of fun that players look for comes from different places. In fact, the motivations change by virtue of the participants: confrontation, discovery, socialization…
Numerous theories on the players have appeared over time with the goal of categorizing the behaviors and the expectations of certain players. The most well known are the four types of Bartle players (Killer, Achiever, Socializer, and Explorer). We are also able to cite the “seven deadly sins” (used by development studios like Ubisoft) or the Demographic Game Design 1 theory based on the works of psychologists Myers and Briggs.
All of these theories highlight ways to play and comprehension of the game. They also shine a light on the quest for certain elements which keep players them in the game and make them come back regularly, and that attract new players – major conditions for the success of a game.
Since the goal of a development studio is to create a successful game, it has to interact with players and respond to their expectations.
So, it is necessary, from the concept phase of a project, to place the player at the center of everything, and to respond to the players expectations as much as possible while still introducing new elements.
This is the responsibility of the game designer, in the way he creates the structure of the game, features, the story and architecture of the different levels; all within the context of satisfying the players.
Before the beginning of the project, the game designer should target the players’ expectations and profiles, in order to identify general motivations and behaviors for which the response is expressed through the mechanics and features of the game. Those are determined as core components of the project. The game designer then has the freedom to let his imagination run wild in order to improve this basic structure and add new elements.
In this step of profiling, game designers are also generally aided by the marketing department, which is more adapted to targeting projects.
In conclusion, in addition to being a player and a creator, the game designer should also be someone empathetic in order to add fun elements to these experiences.
Picture above : Jonathan Liu
Top of page photograph : Kelly Bonin