Monday, June 18, 2012

Ten Years of Behavioral Game Design

When I wrote that article a decade ago, I was a psychology graduate student and amateur game designer who had never worked in the games industry. Since then, the article has run amok, living an almost completely independent existence in the wilds of the internet. It's been translated into multiple languages and assigned as homework. It's been cited by academics, pilloried by the Huffington Post, and even lampooned by my childhood favorite, Cracked magazine. And as anniversaries tend to do, the 10 year anniversary of this article has spurred a lot of reflection on my part. The industry has changed almost beyond recognition since 2001, and I'd like to take the opportunity to ruminate publicly about where this topic has gone in the past decade. Reinforcement learning has been acknowledged as a powerful force in game design: The biggest change is that it's hard to find a game today that doesn't take its reward structure seriously. At the time of the article, it was a radical idea to say that games contained rewards and that the way those rewards were allotted could affect how people played. Now it's simply a given. more

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