Friday, September 20, 2013

A Better Carrot, A Better Stick

As [game] designers, we create the carrots and the sticks that drive players through our simulation. Most designers typically think first about the carrots -- the rewards and bennies that encourage players to pursue "good behavior," but equally important are the consequences of failure and tough decisions. It's the consequences that give these decisions real weight; they provide the emotional lift for the greatest rewards...Economists are fond of saying that you get the behavior you incentivize. One commonly cited fact from real life is that mandatory seat belt laws have resulted in an increase in pedestrian deaths. One consequence of wearing a seat belt is that the driver himself is safer, which allows him to drive faster and more recklessly. As designers, we must be careful of the behavior we incentivize -- it is dangerously easy to penalize good behavior, or reward activities that actively destroy the player's own game experience. If you make a game where jumping is faster than running, players will jump everywhere they go, no matter how silly it looks. more

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