Dear Game Designers: Do This

He's chilling.  Chilling in the creepiest way possible.

I posted about Inception back in July, but it was really about how games are designed to trick you into certain behaviors, without you understanding that you’re being tricked.  You react to the game in some ways like it were real, or at least your responses are genuine.  Well, along that same train of though, say hello to Suzette (who is not actually pictured above.)  Suzette (or more appropriately, her creator) won in a contest that’s a variation of the Turing test.  She fooled a judge into believing that that she was actually human.

Suzette was programmed to be able to deal with a number of topics, each with associated rules and responses. If the bot was struggling to match these to the actual conversation, it was programmed to steer the discussion toward subjects that it knew about.

I don’t think we will ever see a game that offers true freedom to the player, but he or she doesn’t have to know that.  I think games that can gracefully handle player behavior that it wasn’t designed for have a much greater likelihood of coaxing its audience into cooperating with it than the most polished game of any particular genre.  And games that can make you believe that you’re in control, that your actions have consequences, then you will be much more likely to invest in those actions.  It’s easy to take elements of game design for granted based on the fact that it’s being marketed to the gaming community, who will accept goofy ideas (turkey legs behind trash cans will save your life) without a second thought, but they can accomplish much more by trying to get inside your head.

So game designers, your job is to trick us into taking advantage of your game’s strengths.  Your game will suck if we know we are doing arbitrary tasks to win a hypothetical prize.  We have to actually want to win.

Thanks to @Raisins for the link.

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