Award-winning game designer Chris Bateman has been writing and designing games since the 16-bit consoles and is approaching fifty published game credits, most recently Tropico 6 and hotly anticipated PlayStation VR game The Persistence. The founder of Develop Award Nominee International Hobo Ltd, the first consultancy to combine narrative and game design skills under one roof, Chris won the IGDA's MVP Award for his work founding and running the organisation's highly-successful Game Writers Special Interest Group.
Everyone who makes games is in the business of designing for an audience, but understanding what players want has become increasingly difficult the broader and more diverse the audience for videogames has become. Combining cutting edge psychological research with practical game design techniques, this How To talk puts player enjoyment into a more concrete perspective by answering three questions.
What do players want? The ten psychological motives players have for enjoying games, from the victory motive to the narrative motive, provide every possible reason for players liking the emotional experiences of games. The most common mistake game designers make is assuming they are a typical player: they’re not, and neither is anyone else.
Does my game have what players want? The most reliable way of tracking audience preferences is to look at what players are already playing. Here, marketing and game design have to learn to work together to find the all-important balance between the familiar and the original.
Could my game appeal to a wider audience? You can make changes to a game to help it appeal to a wider audience – but you have to be certain you aren’t destroying the core experience just to go fishing for the mass market. Commercial videogames today have to court and keep an audience, and to do that you need to know which player motives your game can deliver, and which other motives are compatible with it.
Don’t guess at your audience: understand them, and yourself, and learn to make better games.
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