Archive for December, 2010

game design is in no small part marketing


Two of the ten point in the HUGHTRAIN Mk II, that are directly relevant to game design.

“1. The market for something to believe in is infinite.

We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary. We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature.

“7. Your job is no longer about selling. Your job is about firing off as many synapses in your customer’s brain as possible.

The more synapses that are fired off, the more dopamines are released. Dopamines are seriously addictive. The more dopamines you release, the more the customer will come back for more. Your customer thinks he is coming back to you for sane, rational, value-driven reasons. He is wrong. He is coming back to feed.

1 – get the subject, setting, story and situations right, so that people care about them and they have meaning.

7 – dopamine is at the heart of lots of human behaviour. Get your rewards paying out in dopamine, and create anticipation for rewards & outcomes to pay out more dopamine in advance.


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scare quote

“Either of a pair of quotation marks used to emphasize a word or phrase or to indicate its special status, especially to express doubt about its validity or to criticize its use.”


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you’re great… and you know it

“… not only do US college students have higher self-esteem than previous generations, they now value self-esteem boosts more than sex, food, receiving a salary payment, seeing a friend or having an alcoholic drink.”

And a note of caution about how you can become addicted to rewarding behaviours

“…’Of course we should enjoy the good things in life, but not so much that we want them more than we like them,’ Bushman’s team concluded. ‘We do not want to become addicted to self-esteem or other rewards, or we will become "slaves" to them, to borrow the words of Fritz Perls”

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gamers need competence, autonomy & relatedness

“Researchers Andrew Przybylski and Scott Rigby, who work with game designers, believe people are motivated to play a particular video game based on how well it satisfies three basic psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Competence deals with a sense of control, mastery, and feeling like you’re making things happen the way you want. A well-designed difficulty curve makes us feel an ever-increasing sense of competence, as does appropriate matchmaking in multiplayer games. Games high in autonomy give you the opportunity to make many meaningful decisions about what goals to pursue and how to pursue them. Finally, relatedness is concerned with a feeling that you matter to other players through social interactions with them.”


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vision indecision


Indecision or inconsistency about a product’s core vision is at the route of most project problems.

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victory conditions = effective goals

Many board games have clear victory conditions that encourage you to play (& maximize) within the rules to achieve a specific goal. They offer an end point in what might otherwise be an endless treadmill.

Goals offer the same end point in projects. If you don’t have a goal, you won’t know when to stop. If you don’t have a well thought through goal, you might use the opportunities that occur to achieve an outcome that isn’t required.

With investments, if you don’t have a goal set, you don’t know when to stop and take the benefit (or minimize the loss) of that investment. Holding on to investments might pay off, and it might not… a goal focuses your attention on making a decision.

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