Wednesday, March 23, 2005

GDC 2005: Nicole Lazzaro and Why We Play Games Together

I'm about 2/3s of the way through my GDC notes. I'm hoping I can finish my debriefing sometime in the next week, so we can get to other topics, such as how great Resident Evil 4 is, and if God of War is going to come out of nowhere and redefine the action genre. Until then, here is another GDC Update:

Why we play games together
Nicole Lazzaro

Nicole’s session focused on her work at XeoDesign, doing games usability and research testing. Specifically she got into one of the four reasons why people play games: The People Factor. The other three, Hard Fun, Easy Fun and Altered States are explained in her white paper . The essential part of her thesis is that people are addictive, not the game. Games make being with people more fun as much as people make playing games more fun.

For most of her lecture she showed video clips of her subjects playing games together in their own homes, at their own desks or on their own couches. The information gained just from the video clips was so worth it. It really reinforced how important doing focus testing and play testing is to a game’s iterative process. I hope we can eventually start doing more rigorous testing like this at my studio.

The other takeaway was her list of emotions that people go through while playing games together.

  • Threat of harm, object moving quickly to hit player, fall or loss of support, possibility of pain
  • Sudden change
    Briefest of all emotions, does not feel good or bad, interpreting event this emotion merges into fear
  • Rejection as food or outside norms
  • The strongest triggers are body products such vomit, urine, mucus, saliva, and blood.
Naches/ Kvell (Yiddish)
  • Pleasure or pride at the accomplishment of a child mentee. (Kvell is how it feels to express this pride child or mentee to others.)
Fiero (Italian)
  • Personal triumph over adversity. The ultimate Game Emotion
  • Overcoming difficult obstacles players raise their their heads. They do not need to experience anger success, but it does require effort.
Schadenfreude (German)
  • Gloat over misfortune of a rival
  • Competitive players enjoy beating each other especially long-term rival. Boasts are made about player prowess ranking.
  • Over whelming improbability. Curious items amaze at their unusualness, unlikelyhood, and improbability without breaking out of realm of possibilities.


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