10 Things that Every Game needs

edited in General
Hi everyone,

I finally got around to posting this. I wanted to put it up sooner but I realized that the slides didn't make much sense without the words so I typed up the notes I made for the talk. That's why it took so long.

Contained in this post are the slides and notes for a talk I gave at the Johburg meetups over 2 sessions. It's a design talk inspired by Mark Rosewater and this article he wrote.

The reason I uploaded this is to spark some discussions over the points. So please read the articles/notes and join in. I would especially like it if we can try and find examples of good games that don't follow the rules, or bad games that do. It would also be cool if we can find examples of games that does one specific thing of the ten either really good, or really bad.

NOTES - 10ThingsEveryGameNeeds.pdf
SLIDES - 10ThingsEveryGameNeeds.pdf
Thanked by 4Tuism hanli dammit Fengol


  • The article is a nice collection of pointers (I thought thought the discussion was better [at least the second half, I missed the first one] :)

    One of my pet peeves is when writers talk about how subjective fun is and how nevertheless we know what it is and how any game should have it. If it is too nebulous to talk about it in a useful way, then they should just not do it.

    I like the way Tadhg Kelly looks at fun (and games in general). He gives a quite narrow definition, and adds other "joys" to the mix.


    In this system, we may like a game (or other activity) for some of these joys, which includes his narrow idea of fun as just one aspect. It's easier to think in terms of these narrower concepts, and then optimise on one or more of them. I think it is much easier to decide whether your game provides the "joy of exploration" than to figure out if it is "fun". For me it also feels that it is easier to fix problems with these specific joys, rather than to try and fix a more general "fun" problem. (I know this because not all games I have worked on was fun :--S ).

    These ideas also resonates well with my own experience; I like point and click adventure games, but dislike the puzzles. The way that the story and mystery unfolds is what keeps me playing, not because the game is fun as such.

    Here is another outlook on this idea of fun that is also worth reading:

  • @hermantulleken, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) I agree that a lot gets lost in translation from the talk to this post because of the interaction you get with a room full of people, but hopefully we can get a discussion going here as well.

    I did actually cop out a bit by saying that designers need to study psychology in order to understand engagement, but in my defense I don't know enough to discuss it properly. :P I disagree however that if it's too nebulous to talk about then it should be ignored. I think at least mentioning it might bring forth insightful opinions/discussions, like the two articles you linked. :)

    I read the articles and they were pretty cool. I especially enjoyed(no pun intended) the article from Kelly. What both these articles highlight for me however is that we still have a ways to go to be able to properly articulate everything we say and discuss surrounding games. At a certain level I think we all try to discuss the same thing, but because of definitions and phrasing things get lost in translation sometimes.
  • edited
    When we see an apple fall from a tree, we can do one of two things:

    We can say "ooh, how wonderful and mysterious... a miracle". This is pretty much then end of the road for this approach (well, not entirely, in an attempt to protect our reputation we will need to spend some time and energy interfering with the other approach...)

    Or, we could say "hmmm, I wonder what's going on", do a bit of thinking and experimentation, invent the law of gravity, and a few hundred years later fly to the moon.

    When we see something a bit more complex, such as the fact that some games grip (certain) players, and others don't, we could similarly follow one of two approaches. We could label it as subjective, and hence use this to justify not trying to understand it, waffle on for a few paragraphs... but then this is the end of what you could contribute (and why I say they should just don't bother with the few paragraphs in the first place). Or we could try to figure it out, and maybe in time do things beyond what we can imagine now. *I* don't think topics such as fun / engagement / joy are nebulous (I just think others use it to justify rambling). I also don't think it should be ignored.

    I think there is no reason to prefer the one approach to the other (ignorance, is after all, bliss)... except with the one you fly to the moon, which is a bit more interesting.

    And just by the way, I would not consider referring people to another field as a cop out. We should go where the knowledge is, and I think psychology provides us with great insight when it comes to "nebulous" topics that involves us humans.

    (I must admit, this is a somewhat optimistic viewpoint of the way the universe works... The fact that after thousands of years of telling stories we still can't reliably predict a hit from a miss is not very encouraging.)
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