Playful: Bennett Foddy and confusion and frustration in games

Live Blogged – mistakes are mine

Foddy’s plan is to talk about suffering in making games. Starts with a lesson from the Olympics. It is one of the only events with billions of viewers. Competing in the games is nothing like playing a video game. it’s about suffering. Running is hard, athletics is hard. You suffer. But this does not happen in games now. In older games, you had to press buttons really hard until it hurts. Why has this changed. Why has frustration and pain been engineered out of the games? Games have become comfortable in a way. We are losing this dimension of pain.

Why suffer in games? There are ways in which suffering makes a game better. Suffering makes failure matter. Games use frustration, loss of progress, often. If you know that failure will make you frustrated or bored, you try harder. It also makes success better; if you’ve worked harder, then it feels better. There is also this idea of challenge. There is a glory of taking a challenge on in itself.

But what about games that just make you suffer for it’s own sake. How about games that actually cause you pain. How about Slapsies – (the hand slapping game). Pain in games is for everyone. How about games that give you a horrible experience. The Cinnamon challenge – eating a big spoon of cinnamon. Pain is not the penalty, there is no way to win this without pain. Pain is the entire game.

Frustration is another area. Games used to be hard and difficult, frustrating to finish but got easier to play throughout as they moved into the living room. But if a game is too easy and you don’t have failure, then do you appreciate it. Frustration built in as part of the game play can make the game better.

Let’s talk about confusion. In game play, people can like getting lost, getting confused. Mazes are an environment you can get lost in, older than video games. It is a great human state. Confusion can be intriguing. Humiliation in games. They are often built in, eg Halo, or Mortal Kombat,.

But why can confusion or humiliation be good. Because they represent the engineer playing with the player. Is the developer a teacher, a tour guide. But is this the right relationship. When you have a single player game, the developer is standing in for player 2. They play. You thwart, play with, inflict pain, confuse him. In many times, play is just violence with a strong set of complaints. It can be tricking the player, or is it that the developer pays attention to what the player is doing and provides responses.

We often get too focused on fun as video game developers. But not all play is fun. You can design games that are more like long distance running. hard and humiliating. But still worth it

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