Gamification with Unity 5.x

4.7 (3 reviews total)
By Lauren S. Ferro
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  1. The Anatomy of Games

About this book

Are you looking at implementing gamification techniques for your business and wondering where to get a complete rundown of all the tricks and techniques? Well, you have come to the right place!

This book will start right from the basics such as gameplay elements and their functionalities before gradually moving onto creating your first gamification project from scratch.

You’ll be given the tools and shown how to perform various techniques for creating gamified applications in different contexts. Finally, you will implement various game elements into Unity, publish your own task management application, and get to know the best practices and approaches when designing gamified experiences.

Publication date:
November 2016
Publisher
Packt
Pages
328
ISBN
9781786463487

 

Chapter 1. The Anatomy of Games

In a world full of work, chores, and just plain boring things, we all must find the time to play. We must allow ourselves to be immerse ourselves within enchanted worlds of fantasy, to explore far-away and uncharted exotic islands throughout mysterious worlds. We may also find hidden treasure while confronting and overcoming some of our worst fears. As we enter utopian and dystopian worlds, mesmerized by the magic of games, we realize anything and everything is possible, and all that we have to do is imagine.

There are many things that are involved in creating this magical places, and in this chapter, we will begin by exploring the following:

  • To begin Not just pixels and programming will cover the basics of what games are and the types of game that exist. It will discuss how games have developed and how to think about what a game really is.

  • Next,Playing to learn discusses the difference types of game and gamified experiences that can have, and have had, an impact on our daily lives.

  • Then, Gamify all the things with gamification has examples of gamified applications that are used in everyday life. It discusses the types of game element and mechanics that are used within each one, and how they encourage different types of interaction.

  • To answer the question of What is game design? this section will explore thedifferent kinds of element and mechanics that games and gamified experiences have.

  • This chapter will conclude with, Competency and complacency - where do we draw the line? Thissection looks at how games and their components are used to get us up and off the couch and keep us engaged.

 

Not just pixels and programming


Gaming has an interesting and ancient history. It goes back as far as the ancient Egyptians with a game called Sennet. Long after the reign of the great Egyptian Kings, the ancient Greeks and Romans saw games as a way to display strength and stamina. However, as time has elapsed, games have not only developed from the marble pieces of Sennet or the glittering swords of battles, they have also adapted to changes in media: from stone to paper, and from paper to technology. We have seen the rise and development of physical games (for example, table and card games) to games that need us to physically move our characters by using our bodies and peripherals (Playstation Move, WiiMote), to interact with the game environment (Wii Sports, Heavy Rain). So now, not only do we have the ability to create 3D virtual worlds with virtual reality, we can enter their worlds as well. Just like the following image, which is from Dungeons and Dragons, games don't have to take on a digital form, they can also be physical.

Dungeons and Dragons board with figurines and dice

Finding your preferred type

Now, let's take it a step further and observe the different types of games that exist. There are games to teach, to train, to escape reality with, and games to transform ourselves. As we can see in the following image, there are tons of games that we can play, and across varying platforms as well!

Many different types of game that are available

To begin, you have your games for entertainment. They may have some other elements such as some accurate historic facts (Assassin's Creed, Civilization), but their main purpose is to entertain us. They can exist across a range of different genres from shooter (Call of Duty) to adventure (Fable) and can be played either alone (Alone in the Dark, Alan Wake, Metro 2033) or with company both near and far (Word of Warcraft, Dota 2, Guild Wars 2). Other genres include:

  • Action: These games offer intensity of action as the primary attraction. They challenge the player in many ways, such as testing their hand-eye coordination and their ability to react to enemies.

  • Adventure: These games can send us to magical faraway lands where majestic animals live and wealth and fortune await. They focus on story and problem solving to get from one part of the game world to another.

  • Arcade: These games give us an experience similar to those from the past and provide us with the opportunity to kill invaders, destroy blocks, and dodge barrels as they inevitably hurl towards us. Gaming experiences are in essence diverse and there is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing them, let alone to create or design them.

  • Educational: These games aim to teach us about real-world concepts and can complement the work that we may do in the classroom.

  • Fighting: These games place us in the ring with an enemy, or two, and bring out the fighter in us. They often feature players competing against each other in a battle of strength and endurance.

  • Horror: These games have us terrified, unable to move while our hearts are racing as we turn every corner; horror games are what nightmares are made of. They feature overwhelmed protagonist(s), an oppressive atmosphere, and a need for careful management of resources (ammo, health, and so on).

  • Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO): These games are just that. They are games that contain large amounts of players, from all corners of the globe, engaging in various types of gameplay. Players engage in real time and encourage social interaction. They can traverse various detailed and immersive worlds, or solve puzzles against enemies or with allies. MMO's also allow the player to engage with intricate storylines while completing various quests throughout the worlds.

  • Music/Rhythm: These games get you into a rhythm where the player has to input the same synchronized action to a beat or melody such as singing with the right pitch or pushing buttons on a guitar in the right sequence.

  • Platformer: These games are all about platforming . They require the player to jump from one edge to another; sometimes straight into enemy characters over terrifying voids, flames, or even poisonous liquid.

  • Puzzle: These games require focus and concentration. They test your mental skills as well as your dexterity and reflexes.

  • Racing/Driving: These games are where the player drives a vehicle of some kind and races against either other players or time. Such games may create or even break friendships (such as Mario Kart).

  • Role Playing Games (RPG's): RPGs allow us to live out our fantasies as other people or even species. We can be whoever we want, wherever we choose.

  • Shooters (First-Person Shooter (FPS)/Third-Person Shooter (TPS)): These games require the player to go around as a lone agent, team, or rogue and kill anything that moves. These fast-paced games bring out the competitive element within us. We might forge strong bonds or in some cases destroy them.

  • Simulation: These games simulate parts of a reality.

  • Sports: These games allow you to race, swim, and fly. We can live the dream of extreme sports (without the risk) or become an athlete that inspires us.

  • Strategy: These games require you to think outside the box; they challenge your logic and question your reasoning. It is up to you, the player, to come up with plans and tactics to overcome all the challenges that you will face.

Tip

To get a better understanding about different types of genres, try to play a few games from each, albeit on consoles, PC, or mobile. If you don't have a lot of time to spare, check out gameplay videos and see how each genre differs in gameplay.

 

Playing to learn


The structure of these types of game is what gameplay is molded around. Ultimately, these games aim to teach a concept (or many) to players in more interesting ways than reading the same information from a textbook. In some instances, you will have an educational game, where designers entwine the learning objectives into an abstracted reality; and then there are games that stylize reality.

Minecraft

Minecraft is an open-world sandbox type of game where the player can create basically anything that they put their mind to. Just as we can see in the following screenshot, the world of Minecraft is made up of blocks that the player must collect in order to create range of things from houses to the Enterprise. While this game was not necessarily designed to be used as part of a formal educational environment, just that happened. So much so in fact that some schools have integrated it into their lesson plans and curriculum. To this extent, MinecraftEdu which was its educational version (https://education.minecraft.net/), was created in 2011 so that it can better support learning objectives. The main concept for creating MinecraftEdu was so that it could preserve the world of creation that original Minecraft offered while adding elements that enabled it to be effectively used within the classroom. The use of Minecraft and MinecraftEdu has ranged from teaching math concepts to teaching languages.

In-game screenshot of Minecraft

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program (www.kerbalspaceprogram.com) allows the player to create their own space program. This starts with the construction of a spacecraft that is not only capable of flying its crew out into space, but also doesn't kill them. In order to do this, the player has a set of different parts, which are then used to build the functional spacecraft. Each piece serves its own function and will affect the way that the spacecraft flies (or doesn't, just like in the following screenshot). Furthermore, the game supports different game modes. For instance, in the Career Mode, the player has the possibility to expand and manage their own Space Center, by completing missions and researching new technologies. Another is the Sandbox mode, where the player can explore the Kerbal universe without restrictions. Finally, the Science mode is a mix between the previous two.

In-game screenshot of Kerbal Space Program with a crashed spaceship

Sid Meier's Civilization

Imagine being Montezuma of the Aztecs, Darius I of Persia, or Augustus Caesar of Rome like in the following screenshot. Can you image taking the role of some of the most famous historical people that we have only read about? Not only this, but also being the person who must guide the development of a civilization from the first settlements, through the bronze and golden ages all the way through the industrial revolution; and then end up putting a man on the moon, whilst maintaining relationships with nearby nations. Simple...right?

In-game screenshot of Augustus Caesar displaying the background history to the player before they embark on creating their own civilization

Sid Meier's Civilization (1991-2016) series are prime examples of how the natural progression of history plays out depending on how the communities develop skills and infrastructure. In Civilization V (www.civilization5.com) the player can take the role of a historic figure such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Augustus Caesar, or Alexander the Great. The player learns about the history behind each of these great leaders and the time in which they held reign over their respective countries and civilizations. However, what needs to be noted is that the player does not take the explicit role of the historical figure, as they play during different historical periods. The player is effectively writing history as a historical character. In this way, it's possible for Augustus Caesar to order the construction of the pyramids of Giza. This sets up the premise for competitive gameplay among systems within the game and among the gaming community. To get their civilization further along quicker, the player needs to utilize the game's systems more effectively.

It is during historic periods of time (for example, golden age, bronze age, and so on) that the player finds out how their actions affect the outcome of the civilization and the choices resulting in progression and outcomes that allow the player to create an understanding about how different actions and solutions affect the development of a civilization.

Stop kidding around, be serious!

Serious games take concepts from reality that we need to learn, and stylize them in a way that is similar to reality. Whether we are learning about running our own business or a new language, the way that we receive information does not need to remain in endless pages of large textbooks or involves copying notes from classroom whiteboards. The monotonous method of learning can be changed, and serious games take this information and present it as part of an immersive and interactive e-learning environment. Fortunately enough, serious games also provide the ability to test out the knowledge that we learn along the way.

America's Army

The game is a FPS published in 2002 by the U.S. Army (www.americasarmy.com) and is branded as a strategic communication device, designed to allow young Americans to virtually explore the Army at their own pace. The game was created to identify player's interests and then to determine if it matches their needs, interests, and abilities with a view to being part of the U.S. Army. In fact, America's Army represents the first large-scale use of game technology by the U.S. government as a platform for strategic communication and the first use of game technology in support of U.S. Army recruiting.

Screenshot of two different environments from America's Army

Foldit

Foldit  (www.fold.it) is an online game that is part of an experimental research project developed by the University of Washington's Center for Game Science in collaboration with the UW Department of Biochemistry. Players are required to fold the structures of selected proteins using tools that are provided in the game. We can see an example of how the player learns how such structures are formed, in the following image. Of all the solutions, those that score the highest are then analyzed by researchers, who then determine whether there is a native structural configuration (native state) that can be applied to relevant proteins in the real world. What is useful about Foldit is that scientists can then use these solutions to target, eradicate diseases, and create biological innovations. Some of the many successful case stories include www.scientificamerican.com/article/foldit-gamers-solve-riddle and http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12549. You are also encouraged to explore other success stories and news surrounding Foldit.

In-game screenshot of a tutorial part of Foldit

Moonbase Alpha

NASA has once again landed on the moon; however, this time their aim is to colonize, research, and further their exploration. After arriving on the Lunar surface, NASA established a small outpost on the south pole of the moon called Moonbase Alpha (www.nasa.gov/moonbasealpha). Not long after establishing the Moonbase, it became self-sufficient and plans for further expansion were begun.

In Moonbase Alpha, you are an astronaut working to further human expansion and research. However, upon returning from a research expedition, you witness a meteorite impact that cripples the life support capability of the newly established base. With time ticking away with each passing moment, it is up to you and your team to repair (as seen in the following screenshot) and replace equipment in order to restore the oxygen production to the settlement and survive.

Moonbase Alpha requires team coordination along with the use and allocation of your available resources such as robots, rovers, repair tools, and so on. These resources are key to you and your team's overall success and survival. There are several ways that the life support system of the lunar base can be restored. However, you are pressed for time and must work efficiently and effectively, learn from decisions (both good and bad), which are taken in previous gaming sessions. Ultimately, this learning process provides the much needed insight to rise above others on the leaderboard and come out as the ideal astronaut to save you and your team from imminent death in the dark depths of space.

In-game screenshot of the player's avatar (the astronaut) repairing a broken part of the space station

Keeping it real with simulations

Next, there are games that try to emulate reality. These are simulations and they simulate real-world consequences. For example, if you die, you have to start again. They can exist in both fantasy and realistic worlds, but just like real life their consequences are permanent.

Virtual Heroes

Virtual Heroes (www.virtualheroes.com) specializes in 3D simulations that are aimed predominantly towards medical or military training. These are two areas where accurate decisions and fast action can be the difference between living and dying. In reality, it can be dangerous to engage in real scenarios due to the risks that they contain. As a result, it is nearly impossible for new trainees to practice in real-life contexts, and get the much needed skills before heading out on the job. Thankfully, 3D simulated environments (such as those that we can see in the following screenshot) in Virtual Heroes not only offer the space to practice essential skills, but also an environment that contains a higher level of safety where novice personnel can perform various tasks without putting anyone at risk. For example, in emergency room situations, patients are able to interact in simulated scenarios. This process allows for failure, where the student can learn from their mistakes without endangering actual patients. From these experiences, students can be trained to think quickly and make appropriate decisions. As the students progress and develop their skills, the scenarios can be modified so that they present new challenges that offer more opportunities to practice and use the previously developed skills. On the backend of these programs, data can be collected, which can provide insights in to how well or badly students perform. As a result, instructors are able to identify problematic areas that will then help to inform them about what areas to focus on when designing future tasks.

In-game screenshot from Virtual Heroes displaying two different types of environment and situation that a player can face during the game

SimCity

SimCity (www.simcity.com) is a rare example of a long-term multiplayer simulation game. In all the other games of the same series, the player has to manage a city. In SimCity, the player controls an entire region that could contain up to 16 cities with different specializations that the player has to control at the same time. Also, they have the possibility to interact with other players' cities. Both a collaborative or competitive behavior can be adopted by the player to guide them during the decision making process. There are no right or wrong choices, but all of them have consequences. For example, building a casino will bring tourists, and therefore money as well, but it will encourage criminal activity. As a result, your city will become more dangerous and it may ultimately affect your population levels. In addition, universities can research new technologies, but they are very expensive to maintain in comparison to other types of buildings and facilities.

If we look at the following image of SimCity, we can get a feel for many aspects that the player will need to learn, just by the HUD alone! From keeping the citizens happy, managing economies, and building infrastructure, lessons can be learnt, which can then be adapted to real life from such experiences.

Screenshot during gameplay of SimCity

From Dust

From Dust (www.ubisoft.com/en-GB/game/from-dust) recreates the world and the story of a primitive tribe that fights to survive in a hostile environment, in constant evolution. The player has to control the elements to keep their people safe from tsunamis, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, and torrential rains. As we can see in the following screenshot, players begin with building the most basic of things such as bridges to provide a means of getting from one part of the map to the other. The only way to survive is to investigate the ancestors to restore a lost power. Furthermore, the game comes with different modes that the player can be challenged on, from puzzle-based modes to time modes with a lot of pressure. Finally, the game also provides a way to share the player's result in a general leaderboard and let them join a special community.

Screenshot taken during the tutorial level in From Dust

 

Gamify all things with gamification


Lastly, we have gamified experiences. The aim of these experiences is to improve something about ourselves in ways that are ideally more motivating than how we perceive them in real life. For example, think of something that you find difficult to stay motivated with. This may be anything from managing your finances, learning a new language, or even exercising.

Now, if you make a deal with yourself to buy a new dress once you finished managing your finances or to go on a trip once you have learned a new language, you are turning the experience into a game. The rules are simply to finish the task, and the condition of finishing it results in a reward, either a dress or the trip. The fundamental thing to remember is that gamified experiences aim to make ordinary tasks extraordinary and enjoyable for the player.

Games, gaming, and gamified experiences can give rise to many types of opportunities for us to play or even escape reality. To finish this brief exploration into the design of games, we must realize that games are not solely about sitting in front of the TV, playing on the computer, or being glued to the seat transfixed by a digital character dodging bullets. The game mechanics to make a task more engaging and fun have been defined as Gamification. Gamification relates to the use of games to tackle issues related to real-world situations, and while the term has become popular, the concept is not entirely new. Think about loyalty cards, not just frequent flyer mile programs, but maybe even at your local butcher or café. Do you get a discount after a certain number of purchases; maybe the 10th coffee is free. For a while, various reward schemes have already been in place; even giving children a reward for completing household chores or good behavior and awarding gold stars for academic excellence constitute gamification. If you consider social activities such as Scouts, they utilize gamification as part of their procedures. Scouts learn new skills, such as cooperativeness, and by doing so gain different status, and receive badges to demonstrate levels of competency. Gamification has become a favorable approach to engaging clients with new and exciting design schemes to maintain interest and promote a more enjoyable and ideally "fun" product. The product in question does not have to be digital. Therefore, gamification can exist both in a physical realm (as mentioned before with gold stars awards) as well as in a more prominent digital sense (such as badge and point reward systems) as an effective way to motivate and engage users. Some common examples of gamification include:

  • Loyalty programs: Each time you engage with the company in a particular way such as buying certain products, or amount of you are rewarded. These rewards can include additional products, points towards items, discounts, and even free items.

  • School House points: A pastime that some of us may remember, especially for fans of Harry Potter. Each time you do the right thing such as following the school rules you get some points. Alternatively, you do the wrong thing and you lose points.

  • Scouts: They reward levels of competency with badges as well as ranks. The more skilled you are the more badges you collect, wear, and ultimately the faster you work your way up the hierarchy.

  • Rewarding in general: This will often be associated with some rules and these rules determine whether or not a reward is obtained. Eat your vegetables, you get dessert; do you math homework you get to play. Both have winning conditions.

  • Tests: As horrifying as it might sound they can be considered as a game. For example, we're on a quest to learn about history. Each assignment you get is like a task, preparing you for the final battle...the exam. At the end of all these assessments, you get a score or a grade that indicates to you your progress as you pass from one concept to the next. Ultimately, your final exam will determine your rank among your peers and whether or not you make it to the next level or not (that being anywhere from your year level to a university). It may be also worth noting that just like in games, you also have those trying to work the system, searching for glitches in the system that they can exploit. However, just like games, they too eventually are kicked.

Language learning with DuoLingo

DuoLingo (www.duolingo.com) is an interesting application in terms of its design. It is a simple yet powerful tool for grasping foundational concepts in a range of different languages. DuoLingo has quite a fresh color palette and it immediately grabs the attention of the user with its bold and simple graphics. If we have a look at the following screenshot, we can see that the content is contained in small chunks (for example, basic vocabulary, food) and each lesson focuses on a small section of each part. This works well because it doesn't become too overwhelming to the player.

Various screenshots displaying different parts of the DuoLingo application

Game elements and mechanics

DuoLingo includes a number of different game elements and of course they are used in varying ways. The following is a list of the game elements that are used as part of the DuoLingo application and how they are used:

  • Badges: These are used in DuoLingo as a way to identify each new concept to be learnt. Each badge is representative of a certain topic, for example, hamburger for food, conversation bubbles for phrases, and so on.

  • Progress Bars: These are used in a number of ways to indicate both progress as a whole as you complete lessons, and progress within the lessons themselves. As the bars fill, the retention of words is at their highest. However, the bars begin to decline if a user doesn't revise the newly learnt content for each category. The main difference between badges and progress bars is that badges represent completed tasks and progress bars are used to indicate to the player how far they have come and how far they still have to go.

  • Leaderboards: They are implemented for users to compete against one another.

  • Currency: This is used in DuoLingo with Lingots. Lingots are the virtual currency of DuoLingo, which you can obtain when you complete certain tasks within the game.

  • Experience points: These are used to indicate to the player how well they are doing. Each time they practice previously learnt content, they earn experience points. They can keep track of their experience points over the week by observing a graph and even progress bars within each topic.

  • Unlockables: These are featured in two different ways. The first way is by completing previous topics (such as adverbs, tenses, and so on) as well as parts of topics. The second is by using Lingots to obtain items that are unavailable until the user has enough to purchase the items in the store.

  • Countdowns: These are used in DuoLingo to test the speed of a user who has completed a module. In one way, it encourages the player to compete against themselves to not only beat the timer, but to also do better than the other previous attempts by obtaining a faster time.

  • Lives: In the timed mode, a player has in total three lives that allow them to answer a question incorrectly. Once they have run out of lives they must start again.

Becoming a better human with Habitica (HabitRPG)

Real life can be mundane in some parts, especially when we are trying to keep on top of to-do lists, or develop better habits. However, don't worry, Habitica is one gamified application that adds a bit of drama to whatever new habit you are trying to develop (or stop). As we can see in the following image, Habitica has a dashboard as its main interface. All the information is displayed to the player at a glance, and more specific information, such as daily tasks and chats, is displayed in other, yet easily accessible, parts.

Screenshot of the rewards section of Habitica

Game elements and mechanics

Like DuoLingo, it uses similar elements and some new ones to achieve different things. The following is a list of game elements that are found in Habitica and how they are used as part of the gaming experience:

  • Levels: These are featured with the player advancing as they gain experience points and retain lives.

  • Progress Bars: These feature a lot throughout Habitica, representing many different parts. For example, progress bars represent the amount of experience as well as mana (to fight against various creatures).

  • Status: These levels differentiate the types of classes for player and the abilities that they have against creatures.

  • Lives: These are the number of lives that a player has remaining against creatures within the game. Each time a player does not complete a daily task or habit on time, they lose some life points.

  • Experience Points: They are for each player and are associated with successfully completing tasks and habits. With each successful check-in, a player gains a small amount of experience towards leveling their character up.

Shop till you drop with AliExpress (mobile application)

While we many not necessarily need an excuse to shop, because let's face it we can always buy ourselves something, AliExpress (www.aliexpress.com) has turned part of its service into a game with their mobile application. To encourage users to download, install, and use their application a number of games and exclusive offers have been designed to offer savings and some items for almost free (+ $0.01 for shipping), if you are lucky enough to grab them in time. As we can see in the following screenshot, Ali Express keeps a log of the user's interactions, for example, how successful or unsuccessful they have been with daily spins.

In addition, the user is also rewarded with feedback when good things happen, such as winning coins from spinning the wheel.

Screenshot of various elements from Ali Express that encourage the user to engage with gamified elements such as spining the Wheel and collecting daily coins.

Game elements and mechanics

Ali Express is slightly different from both DuoLingo and Habitica; it's an application for purchasing goods, rather than curving a spending habit or learning Italian. The following is a list of how various game elements are used to engage the user:

  • Points: These are used in a number of ways with AliExpress. For example, they are associated with different actions. For the most part, points indicate to the user how well they are doing overall in terms of submitting feedback to buyers and receiving feedback from sellers.

    Feedback is also associated with points. Each time a user gives and receives feedback they are provided with points that are then attributed to a level.

  • Badges: These are usually included during special events and require that a user complete certain tasks, such as adding an item to their wishlist, to get the daily badge.

  • Levels: These indicate the user's interaction with the application. For example, since giving and providing feedback allows them to level up, reaching a new level provides additional rewards. For example, they may have the ability to be notified in advanced about upcoming sales and receive extra discounts.

  • Progress Bars: These are used to track the number of points that you have accumulated towards each level. Points that contribute to the overall progress are related to providing feedback for purchases, buying items, and daily shopping.

  • Virtual Currency: This is used in the way of coins. Coins allow users to buy various items (if they are quick enough!) and exchange coupons that give them discounts off their next purchases.

  • Mini-games: Spin the wheel and Shake is one of a few mini-games that users have the chance to engage with. The game provide users with the ability to win additional coins to buy better items with or greater discount coupons.

  • Chance: This provides users with a feeling of mystery, especially if they are playing mini-games. It is enticing, with each spin of the wheel or shake of the phone having the possibility to result in a large amount of coins.

  • Unlockables: These are used for giving access to different features such as fast refunds, fast track claims, and price cut notifications.

 

What is game design?


So, as we have discussed, many types of game exist and therefore design approach. There are different ways that you can design, implement, and create games. Now, let's take a brief look at how games are made and more importantly, what they are made of:

  1. Generating ideas involves thinking about the story that we want to tell, or a trip that we may take the player on. At this stage, we're just getting everything out of our head and onto paper. Everything and anything should be written, the stranger and more abstract the idea, the better. It is important at this stage not to feel trapped by thinking an idea may not be suitable. Often, the first few ideas that we create are the worst, and the great stuff comes from iterating all the ideas that we put down in this stage. Talk about your ideas with friends, family, even online forums are a great place to get feedback on your initial concepts. One of the first things that any aspiring game designer can begin with is looking at what is already out there. A lot is learnt when we succeed, or fail, especially why and how. Therefore, at this stage, you will want to do a bit of research about what you are designing. For instance, if you're designing an application to teach English, not only should you see what other applications exist, but also how English is actually taught, even in an educational environment. It doesn't have to stop there either. Observing how games teach ideas and concepts can also provide you with ideas to implement into your own gamified application.

    Tip

    While you are generating ideas, it is also useful to think about the technology and materials that you will use along the way. What game engine is better for your game's direction? Do you need to purchase licenses if you are intending to make your game commercial? Answering these kinds of questions earlier on can save many headaches later on when you have your concept ready to go, especially if you need to learn how to use the software as some have steep learning curves.

  2. Defining your idea is not just a beautiful piece of art that we see when a game is being created. It can be rough, messy, and downright simple, but it communicates the idea. It might even be worthwhile to show an example of the process from other games, such as the initial sketch of an object, its iterations, and then its final outcome. Not just this, it also communicates the design of the game's space and how a player may interact and even traverse it. Concept design is an art in itself and includes concepts on environments, characters puzzles, and even the quest itself. We take the ideas that we had during the idea generation and we flesh them out. We begin to refine them, to see what works and what doesn't. Again, at this stage it is important to get feedback. The importance of feedback is vital. When we are designing games, we often are caught up, we are so immersed in our ideas, and to us they make sense. We have sorted out every detail (at least for the most part it feels like that). However, you aren't designing for you, you are designing for your audience and getting an outsider's opinion can be crucial and even offer a perspective that you might not necessarily have thought of. This stage also includes the story. Life without existence is like a game without a story. What kind of story do you want your player to be a part of? Can they control it, or is it set in stone? Who are the characters? The answers to these questions breathe soul into your ideas. While you are designing your story, keep referring to the concept that you have created, the atmosphere, the characters, and the type of environment that you envision. Some other aspects of your game that you will need to consider at this stage are:

    • How will your players learn how to play your game?

    • How will the game progress? This may include introducing different abilities, challenges, levels, and so on. Here is where you will need to observe the flow of the game. Too much happening and you have a recipe for chaos, not enough and your player will get bored.

    • Number of players that you envision playing your game (even if you intend for a co-op or online mode).

    • What are the main features that will be in your game?

    • How will you market your game? Will there be an online blog that documents the stages of development? Will it include interviews with different members of the team? Will there be different content that is tailored for each network (such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on)?

  3. Bringing it together is thinking about how all your ideas come together and how they work, or don't. Think of this stage like creating a painting. You may have all the pieces, but you need to know how to use them to create the piece of art. Some brushes (such as story and characters) work better with other paints (for example, game elements, mechanics, and so on). This stage is about bringing your ideas and concepts into reality. This stage features design processes such as:

    • Storyboards, which give an overview of how the story and gameplay evolve throughout the game.

    • Character design sheets, which outline characteristics about who your characters are and how they fit into the story.

    • Game User Interfaces (GUI's), which will provide information to the player during gameplay. This may include elements such as progress bars, points, and items that they collect along the way.

  4. Prototyping is where things get real...well relatively. It may be something as simple as a piece of paper or something more complex such as a 3D model. You then begin to create the environments or the levels that your player will explore. As you develop your world, you will take your content and populate the levels. Prototyping is where we take what was in our head and sketched out on paper and use it to sculpt the gameful beast. The main purpose of this stage is to see how everything works, or doesn't . For example, the fantastic idea of a huge mech-warrior with flames shooting out of an enormous gun on its back was perhaps not the fantastic idea that it was on paper, at least not in the intended part of the game.

    Tip

    Rapid prototyping is fast and rough. Remember when you were in school and you had things such as glue, scissors, pens, and pencils, well that is what you will need for this. It gets the game to a functioning point before you spend tireless hours in a game engine trying to create your game. A few bad rapid prototypes early on can save a lot time than one digital one. Lastly, rapid prototyping isn't just for the preliminary prototyping phase. It can be used before you add in any new features to your game once it's already set up

  5. Iteration is like what an iron is to a creased shirt. You want your game to be on point and iterating it gets it to that stage. For instance, that awesome mech-warrior that you created for the first level was perhaps better as the final boss. Iteration is about fine-tuning the game, tweaking it so that it not only flows better overall, but also the gameplay is improved.

  6. Playtesting is the most important part of the whole process once you have your game at a relatively functioning level. The main concept here is to playtest, playtest, and playtest. It cannot be emphasized enough about the importance of this stage. More often than not, games are released buggy, with problems and issues that could have been avoided during this stage. As a result, players lose interest, reviews contain frustration and disappointment, which let's face it we don't want after hours and hours of blood, sweat, and tears. The key here is to not only playtest your game, but to playtest it in multiple ways, on multiple devices, with a range of different people. If you release your game on the PC, test it on a high-performance one and a low-performance one. The same process should be applied for mobile devices (phones and tablets) and operating systems! We will cover this in more detail in Chapter 8, Break, Destroy and Rebuild - The Art of Playtesting and Iteration.

  7. Evaluate your game based on the playtesting.

    Tip

    Iterating, playtesting, and evaluating are three steps that you will go through on a regular basis, more so as you implement a new feature or tweak an existing one. This cycle is important. You wouldn't buy a car that has parts added without being tested first so why should a player buy a game with untested features?

  8. Build your game and get it ready for distribution, on CD or online as a digital download.

  9. Publish your game! Your baby has come of age and is ready to be released out into the wild where it will be a portal for players around the world to enter the world that you (and your team) have created from scratch. The publication process will be covered in more detail in Chapter 9, Graduating your Project to Completion.

Conjuring the elements

Think about the fundamental components of life; we have atoms, cells, neurons; we have many things that are combined to create the structure. Games are no different. Games are like chemistry, you combine the right elements and mechanics (which we will discuss shortly) and you have the potential to cause an impressive reaction, a type of gameplay; of course keep in mind that it can always work in reverse!

To begin, games are made of a range of different elements. Elements can be considered as the what of game design. What does the player get for killing enemies, for completing objectives consecutively and on time? Does the player get a badge, some points, or do they level up and become higher ranked? All these things are combined to create unique experiences.

The following is a list of the basic game elements that we will discuss and cover throughout this book. In addition, this list provides you with a basic overview of some of the most popular game elements that can be found in any game:

  • Avatars are representations of players in games. You can think of them as 2D such as an icon, or even 3D such as the actual character that you play. They can be make-believe; user-created, or even the user themselves.

  • Achievements represent some type of accomplishment. The process of obtaining achievements may be through varying challenges of varying levels of difficulty, exploration, as with the case of hidden achievements, or locked achievements that require you to have obtained something earlier in order to unlock the achievement. In general, achievements are often built around different types of behavior.

  • Badges are icons that you receive for doing a particular action(s) and/or completing objectives. They differ from achievements in the sense that they are usually a visual representation of achievements (or groups of them). Examples may include trophies, like on the Playstation Network.

  • Bars (such as progress bars) indicate various factors such as health, mana, and experience levels. They can come in many shapes and forms. For example, progress bars can be segmented, they can be one continuous bar, and they can be circular, rectangular, and colored.

  • Bonuses act as an extra something to contribute towards other rewards. They may come in the form of additional items, more experience, aid in completing an achievement (such as extra coins). For example, if you kill twenty enemies within 30 seconds, you get extra points as opposed to if you kill them within 30 minutes.

  • Collectables include anything that you can and want to collect such as pens, postcards, coins, stamps, and so on. Similar things exist within games. In some cases, these items can be used, traded, or sold for other items; in other cases, they are just there for the sake of it, so you can boast to other players that you have something or a lot of something that is relatively special to the game. Many games have one-time collectables during festive times of the year such as Christmas or Halloween.

  • Combos require the player to group items together to perform a certain behavior or obtain particular items. For example, if you're playing a fighting game such as Tekken or Street Fighter, pressing certain buttons in sequence will result in a combined attack. Combos can also include the player combining various elements together to create or obtain a greater item.

  • Countdowns/timers are just like the days in reality that come and go, games incorporate the element of time in various ways. For example, to avoid the player idling for too long, designers may limit the amount of time that it takes a player to complete an objective. They usually push a player to improve so that the time they take to complete an objective becomes more efficient. Time limits are not necessarily used just to improve the player's efficiency, or as idle time, they can be used to increase the difficulty by giving the player less time to do something. It can also add a sense of urgency and tension to the game's atmosphere.

  • Currency whether virtual or real currency can be used to obtain items (in the real and virtual world). In some games, such as EVE Online, actual stock markets exist that influence the price of virtual goods. Some examples of virtual currency include ISK (EVE online), Gil (Final Fantasy), Lingots (DuoLingo), and coins and gems (Clash Royale and many other casual games).

  • Difficulty allows the user to select a level of difficulty before they engage with an experience that can increase the level of immersion. Common types of difficulty include levels of easy, medium, and hard; time constraints; limited resources such as ammunition, weapons, medical supplies, stronger and/or an increased number of enemies; and damage (for example, the amount of times that you can be shot at until you have no health left).

  • Easter Eggs are a special secret event that a user can discover. They can be various types such as inside jokes from the developers, or even the community. Some great examples include the elevator rave in Crysis 2, the disco party in Stanley Parable, or the giant ocean bunny in Saints Row 2.

  • Feedback provides information about the user's interaction, which is important for not only motivating the player, but to also let them know about their interaction. This can be after a particular action, duration, or series of actions and behaviors. Types of feedback can be a dialogue box on the screen saying something like Well done! or even an audio clip indicating a right or wrong action.

  • Items include anything from useful objects that you receive (physical and/or digital) for performing a particular action, exploration, to additional ammunition, medical supplies, and power-ups, which can be items in games that your player can obtain, require, and eventually use. The distribution of items, their availability, and where they are located will depend on how challenging you want your experience to be as well as the reward schedule that you are planning to implement.

  • Leaderboards are a great way of showing to the rest of the world that you are number one (or at least ranked somewhere). Your rank among other users is based on a parameter(s) such as points, achievements, kill/death ratios, and so forth. Leaderboards can be based on all-time scores; momentary ranking such as daily, weekly, and even monthly player's scores.

  • Levels are a way of providing a sense of progress to a player. They can be in the form of varying levels of difficulty, or the strength of abilities that a player has. In addition, levels can also indicate the natural progression of the player to another location as they advance through the game. An example of levels would be progressing through different areas and locations such as those within God of War and Army of 2.

  • Permadeath as the name suggests, the death of a character or player during gameplay is permanent. If the player wants to continue, they must start from the beginning.

  • Points are usually numerical in value and due to a player performing an action. Points can be added or subtracted depending on what the action was. For example, if the aim is to shoot enemies the player gets a point; if on the other hand, they shoot their teammate, they may lose points.

  • Quests are part of a player's journey that may include various obstacles and challenges that they are required to overcome. You can think of quests like parts of a story. For example, the overall story is about a prince rescuing a trapped princess, but each part of the story such as defeating enemy hordes, surviving the wilderness, and finding the necessary ingredients to make a potion to save her, are all quests.

  • Score is the total amount of points that the player has accumulated throughout sections of the game. They can be totaled at a specific moment, or at the end of a quest, or even the game. Depending on their importance to the overall objective, will determine how the score is displayed.

Getting elemental

Something to consider when using elements is how will they be obtained by your player? More often than not, when designing gaming experiences, we can be swept up in our own imagination. Adding a badge here and a point there might sound pretty fun, but it can become overwhelming to the player, and in some cases they might ask...why? Why am I getting a badge for doing something that I had to do anyway? Because it was fun...right? We will look at using game elements in more detail later in this book, but if you have some ideas now, such as creating an awesome fitness application that will use badges to keep users engaged, ask yourself why you are adding the badge and how it is supposed to keep the player motivated.

In this book, the term game element refers to the Greek word stoikheion meaning component or part. Thus, game elements are the components of games that contribute to an experience. They include things such as badges, points, levels, and so on. Think about the games that you play. Do they have elements in common? Do most of the games consist of badges, points, and levels?

If you are trying to create a narrative-heavy story, you might consider using elements that are targeted towards immersing the player into the story. For example, quests, narrative, progress bars, and even levels can help to contribute to such an experience. The narrative is what defines the gameplay, quests help to break the narrative into interactive chunks, and progress bars can provide a player with a sense of accomplishment as they advance throughout the game.

If, on the other hand, you want to create a competitive environment, elements such as points, status, levels, leaderboard, and badges can help to facilitate that. For example, a game that encourages students to learn their times tables might compare students against each other in a leaderboard. They are ranked on the amount of questions that they get right: one point for a correct answer minus one for an incorrect one. After a while the points begin to accumulate, the student transcends through different levels; as a result they begin to get a higher status, from Novice Mathematician all the way to Genius. Finally, each level and status is indicated with a badge that is attached to a student's profile.

Tip

Before you start to create any game or even add additional elements, look at the games that already exist. Play and play often, because not only will you get ideas about how games use the same elements in various ways, you can get a better idea about whether or not what you are trying to do will work. If you don't have the time to play, watch gameplay videos online (YouTube and Twitch.io). Even walkthrough books can offer a detailed step-by-step guide about how the player is expected to progress through a level.

Getting mechanical

This book refers to the term mechanic based on the late Middle English term (mechanic) meaning relating to manual labor. Therefore, how a player obtains an element can also be important. Having the what is great, but then having the how is even better. A player will get a badge, but how they will get it is the mechanic. Does the player have to win, trade, die, or collect certain elements before they can obtain them? For example, does the player have to collect five stars to get the star badge? These are considerations that each game designer needs to take into account when adding each new game element. In the following list, we can see a list of common game mechanics, some of which we will be using in the project for this book.

  • Aiming to direct an object to interact with another or to target an enemy can provide a player with a sense of precision and control, for example, the ability to shoot an enemy that is far in the distance rather than limiting the player to hand-to-hand combat. Aiming can be anything from aiming to kill an enemy or to hit a button from a distance.

  • Building can allow the user construct parts of the interactive experience. Building can allow the player to develop the environment around them. In games like the Civilization series, building is a core component in gameplay because it can allow the player to advance through the game in various ways.

  • Collecting allows players to collect items for use later on. Collecting items may be seasonal (such as Christmas) and have expirations (for example, you can only collect items for one week). The main objective here is to let the hoarder free inside of us.

  • Creating allows users to create their own content. This may be within defined parameters or unrestricted parameters. Creating often allows the user to customize their experience, allowing them to personalize their interaction and adding another layer of personalization. Ultimately, the player has designed something that is created.

  • Customizing allows the user to customize elements of their experience, which can provide a more tailored experience based on what a player likes or doesn't like. Customization may be simple (for example, name change) or extensive (such as name, aesthetics, features, and so on).

  • Disabling disables features in an interactive experience (for example, location settings and profile privacy), which can provide the player with a sense of authority as well as an option to control the gameplay. This can be disabling buttons to lock out other players, closing doors on enemies, disarming enemies and/or opponents, and so on.

  • Enabling the player to activate features in an interactive experience (such as location settings and profile privacy). Just like disabling, enabling can be about opening a locked door, and providing enemies with weapons to enable them to progress.

  • Finding items encourages the user to explore the environment to locate particular items to further the interactive experience. This can be searching chests for a particular weapon, collecting feathers like in Assassin's Creed, or looking for someone in particular to complete a mission.

  • Gifting another user an item in the form of a gift. This can be to gain rewards for yourself or to provide something for someone else. Who said true altruism is dead?

  • Keeping items can be as part of an inventory, as collectables, or for use later. Providing the ability for users to keep objects means that they can use them later. Of course, it is possible to limit the amount of objects that a player can keep at any one time, in total or based on the weight. For example, some inventories place emphasis on the amount of weight that a player can carry and in some instances items are very heavy, meaning that there is less room for other items.

  • Losing is not always favorable, but sometimes necessary, especially if we eventually want one victor!

  • Making allows the user to make items; this is different from creating because a player uses existing elements to make something, for example, providing the user with parts of an item so that they can make it later. It's like finding different parts of a jigsaw puzzle, then ultimately putting them together at the end.

  • Obtaining items during the interactive experience can be from other players (both real and NPC's), during events (such as from bosses), through performing particular behaviors, and so on.

  • Organizing items in a particular order (for example, color, shape, size, weight, and so on) can improve a player's efficiency when it's needed such as during an intense battle. Organizing can be manual or automatic depending on what is being organized. Some of the most popular organization options are in inventory systems where players can order the items that they have.

  • Punishing a player for failing to complete an action correctly can end quite badly for a player depending on how the designer decides to punish them. For example, if they failed to meet an objective within a time limit they might lose the option of getting an achievement, or they might have to begin the entire mission again. It is also possible for other players to deliver and receive, and give to each other. For example, if a player is not contributing enough to a clan or not at a high enough level, it is possible that they will be kicked out and not permitted to rejoin until they reach a desired level.

  • Repairing items for use at a later stage, even in real-time, can add a range of different experiences. For example, repairing weapons at certain locations within a map encourages players to take more care about how they use them and how often. During real-time situations, such as during an intense fight, players are able to repair their weapons, armor, and so on, in real-time, such as a mech-warrior in Lost Planet 2.

  • Revealing elements of the experience are revealed or can be revealed if conditions are met. For example, a user will reveal the next level only once they have finished the current one. Revealing can be expected or completely surprising to the player. From a twist in the narrative, location of an enemy, or even the location of an epic weapon, revealing can be as dramatic as you wish.

  • Sending allows the user to send items, messages, and so on, to other players to increase the social element, which can be a useful mechanic in games where collaboration and cooperation are important.

  • Shooting another object with a projectile whether it is a grapple hook or bullet to get from A to B can change the way that a player engages with not only an environment, but also other players (if they are required to shoot them!).

  • Trading items between individuals or groups can encourage social interaction amongst players. Like sending, trading is also an exchange of items, yet it is reciprocal, meaning that it goes both ways. For example, I will give you this mighty sword for 10 Elderflower potions. If this deal is agreed to, then the trade takes place. Trading systems operate in different ways, such as sometimes you can trade with NPC's within games, or with players. It all depends on how and who you want your players interacting with and what is more important in terms of social interaction.

  • Using things in games allows the user to engage with a particular feature(s). The ability to use something as opposed to not using it can either create elation or frustration for a player. Imagine you're in the final minutes of the last wave of Zombies, then out of nowhere you see a rocket launcher; unfortunately, it's only there for aesthetics and not for use. This situation can vary the player's overall level of engagement with the game. The world may have been a better place if they could have used it and stopped a Zombie Apocalypse...we'll never know.

  • Voting allows a player to have a say that can impact future experiences/interactions with the process of voting. Voting may influence the experience of a single user or all users. We can vote to kick a player from a map, to choose a map, to decide on what options are more favorable. Voting brings an element of democracy to your experience, which of course allows players to have a say, but not allowing a system of voting and dictating choices to a player can create an interesting atmosphere.

  • Winning is what we all strive for when we play games. How a player wins can be anything from natural progression throughout the game, killing a boss, or even choosing to sacrifice your co-op friend for the greater good. I want to lose...said no one ever!

Difference between gameplay and game mechanics

For many, gameplay and game mechanics have subtle differences, if any at all. The main difference, which is presented in this book, is that game mechanics are the basic building blocks of gameplay. Therefore, if we consider the game mechanic list in previous sections, these are mechanics, and gameplay would then result as a combination of these. For example, the combination of shooting an enemy to obtain items, and winning is a gameplay that is typically featured in shooting games.

In any case, while some may refer to the previous list as only gameplay, there are other lists that consider them as mechanics, and there are varied definitions about the exact term. The descriptions in this book aim to not only simplify terms, but to also consolidate a list of common vocabulary. Of course, you are encouraged to view other lists and references of game mechanics, some of which can be found at http://gamestudies.org/0802/articles/sicart, which provides a comprehensive explanation about the different perceptions, definitions, and approaches to the concept of game mechanics and gameplay; and other lists such as https://badgeville.com/wiki/Game_Mechanics or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_mechanics.

 

Competency and complacency; where do we draw the line?


Designing games, and more specifically gamified experiences, requires considerations about the type of reinforcement and feedback that the player is given, as well as how and when. Too much or too little and they may lose interest. Ideally, it is about balancing the two to keep the player challenged and happy. To begin, let us think about how people are motivated and engaged.

So, you've created a game and you have your first player. At this point, you hope that you will be able to keep them, that they will continue to come back; and if you're lucky, they will share news of their wonderful experience to their friends, and other inhabitants of the Internet. If you extend this to your commercial gamified application, this will be your pass to success. However, for now, let's take a few steps back and think about how we can achieve that.

Let us consider the types of reinforcement and feedback that exist. For example, some focus on the negatives and others on the positives of an experience. Either way has proven successful, but ultimately it comes down to how you want your player to feel. Having a player avoid something because it results in a negative outcome, or avoid something to optimize the positive outcomes, can lead down different paths in terms of a player's experience.

Examples of feedback and reinforcement

Motivation can be thought of as why we do what we do. Our motivation for engaging with anything is associated with some sort of stimuli that might include a general desire to do so or the need to obtain a reward such as food or money. For instance, let us consider why you are motivated (if at all) to read this book. In some cases, it can determine whether we are short or long-term adopters of anything, from playing a game to buying a new phone.

It does not necessarily imply that we are motivated to do something because we want to; it may be because we are rewarded for doing something and as a result this is our source for motivation. Both are important in understanding how to develop meaningful interactions. For example, if an individual is motivated to learn mathematics by external rewards such as a gold star for doing well on a test, their internal desire is less stimulated with the task and more by the reward. Therefore, how much they understand and retain might not be so great as if they were to be genuinely interested.

Understanding how motivation is triggered and stimulated not only provides a necessary grasp of how it occurs, but it also provides insights into how to design in order to trigger and maintain it in a more personal way. Motivation is an important area because it's assumed that identifying triggers and sources of intrinsic motivation will help to identify more meaningful game elements and game mechanics to implement as part of a gamified system. This is with the aim of reducing reliance on extrinsic motivation.

The internal flame for doing...anything

Intrinsic motivation is where an individual's motivation comes from; it's their internal desire to do something for a personal and meaningful reason. If an individual is intrinsically motivated they tend to have a sense of agency in reaching and obtaining their desired goals and as a result are more likely to persist with a task. To understand the different layers that can ultimately affect the level of which intrinsic motivation is likely to occur, we can explore the concept of self-determination theory. It suggests that individuals have three innate needs and that when these three needs are satisfies their intrinsic motivation increases. In the context of games, these three innate needs are:

  • Competency: How much the game and its associated tasks allow for a sense of accomplishment or mastery?

  • Relatedness: How much does the game allow for being connected or related with others?

  • Autonomy: How much the game provide choice over tasks and goals, and sustain the ability to feel a sense of control, as opposed to being controlled by feedback?

If rewards are not used appropriately within the context and value, it can affect their overall motivation to engage with an application or game. If the reward is perceived as praise (such as indicating a level of competency), the reward is likely to increase their intrinsic motivation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if they perceive that the reward is a form of bribery (for example, to avoid a certain consequence), then it is more likely that an individual will perceive this as compromising their self-determination. The essence of the self-determination theory is built on the notion of meaningful rewards and encouraging intrinsic motivation.

Read this and you'll get candies

In contrast to intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation occurs when there are external factors present that influence an individual's behavior. The use of external rewards is what stimulates an individual's extrinsic motivation. If individuals, who are primarily extrinsically motivated, do not receive external rewards for their participation, their interest will eventually decline. Intrinsic motivation individuals appeal more to meaningful feedback, whereas extrinsic motivation individuals are more enticed by the offer of external rewards.

The implementation of external rewards is effective in facilitating extrinsic motivation, but at the expense of intrinsic motivation. To facilitate and promote intrinsic motivation within individuals, there must be less of a focus on extrinsic rewards. While they can be effective at motivating individuals initially, their use cannot be the main trigger of motivations within individuals as this ultimately affects their intrinsic motivation and personal connection to the task, or application that they are interacting with. In this case, the focus needs to be on the intrinsic motivation with the aim of reducing reliance on external rewards that promote extrinsic motivation, in order to encourage intrinsic motivation within individuals. This will not extend the longevity of a gamified application, but it will also reduce negative effects on the individual's self-determination and intrinsic motivation. Unfortunately, there are no candies here, but hopefully you learnt something!

A little bit of conditioning to control user behavior

We cannot understand feedback and reward schedules in games until we have a better grasp on the idea of conditioning. Long ago, psychologists examined how we could develop conditioned responses based on various stimuli. It is important to know these things when our aim is to increase particular behavior or even decrease it.

Classical conditioning

In classical conditioning, a Conditional Stimulus (CS) is initially a neutral stimulus. Think of something like church bells. However, when it is repeatedly paired with an Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS), the CS will come to elicit a Conditioned Response (CR). So, every time that you hear the bells you might remember that it's time to go to lunch at your grandparent's house, and as a result, you begin to salivate because you know you're about to eat. In a standard conditioning procedure, the UCS always follows the CS and the UCS never occurs without the CS.

Repeating the new pairings of the CS and UCS, the CS prohibits the CR from occurring. Thus the CS can be understood to control the CR. Much like our own example, in a well-known experiment, Ivan Pavlov sounded a bell (CS) just before he gave a dog some food (UCS), and after several pairings the bell caused the dog to salivate (CR).

Operant conditioning

The operant conditioning differs from the classical conditioning because it involves applying reinforcement (either positive or negative) or punishment (either positive or negative) after a behavior/response. For example, take the B.F Skinner's infamous rat example, rats really had no reason to pull the lever, except for the fact that when they did, they got some food. Therefore, the rats were rewarded for pulling the lever. However, if the food is removed the rats would still continue to pull the lever with the expectation that the food would come again; however if this behavior would become extinct if no food comes out for a long period of time. The other main difference with the operant and classic conditioning is that operant conditioning requires a participant to be actively involved in the process rather than passive. For example, if a child in a classroom behaves appropriately, they will get class points, if they don't, they get punished (for example, detention or time out). Of course this concept is more more deeper than we have time for, but I encourage you to research this topic in more detail on your own, as it relates closely to how players are rewarded when it comes to gamified applications.

Avoid spoiling the player

If we have learnt anything from the previous sections, research (and sometimes common sense) has demonstrated that rewarding the player too much can have side effects such as creating a dependency or reliance on being rewarded. For a moment, let's imagine that you do not want to eat your vegetables. So, as a reward your mother will give you a piece of chocolate if you finish them. This happens continuously until you realize that you want more chocolate. One piece of chocolate is not enough for eating these disgusting vegetables. Therefore, your mother gives you two pieces of chocolate...and so the cycle continues. At what point on this reward merry-go-round do we stop? Until we reach a block of chocolate? Two blocks? It begins to create a dependency, which begins to reduce in satisfaction unless somehow its novelty is renewed with greater rewards. In this way, rewarding a player can be futile in that it provides only a momentary distraction from the issue - like not eating your vegetables.

Let's consider the opposite, such as when you really enjoy eating vegetables. In this case, your mother continues to give you a piece of chocolate every time that you eat them all. This happens again, and again. Ultimately, your mother is rewarding you for something that you already enjoy doing and as a result, you may actually begin to lose interest in it. A big deal was made over something that was unnecessary. This is called overjustifcation and can be just as damaging as providing too many rewards.

Finding a balance in providing rewards to a player can be achieved by implementing a reward schedule. A reward schedule can be thought of as an interval timer for when rewards are given to a player. Perhaps early on, the player receives a reward each time they learn a new concept, or achieve something note-worthy. Then, as the player becomes more competent, the time between rewards is increased. By doing this, we are reducing the chances that the player becomes reliant on obtaining rewards.

 

Summary


Congratulations, you have reached the end! This chapter has offered some insight into the early development of games.

We have covered the basics of; what are games and the types of games that exist? Then we had a brief look at some examples of gaming experiences that are aimed to motivate us when we would rather ignore problems such as a healthier lifestyle, or impending travel plans. Next, we went through brief descriptions of various elements and mechanics that games have and some basic considerations for their use within gaming experiences. Lastly, we looked at understanding motivation and how different types of motivation affect us.

In the next chapter (Chapter 2, Who or What am I? Understanding the Player), we will look more closely at players, who they are, where they are from, and what we need to think about when we are designing for them. We will explore the different ways that players can be motivated, and how to facilitate it or to be mindful of it. In addition, we will look at different methods of approaching the design of gamified applications.

About the Author

  • Lauren S. Ferro

    Lauren S. Ferro has a Ph.D. in player profiling and modeling. She is currently an Adjunct Professor and researcher at Sapienza University, in Rome. Lauren is also the co-organizer of the Unreal Engine Meetup in Rome. In addition, she created the game design resource, Gamicards, which is a prototyping tool for game experiences. At heart, she is intrigued by how we interact with the world and those in it.

    Browse publications by this author

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It is great to see that as always you get authors to cover specialty topics with an interesting angle.
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Interessante Ideen. Das einzige mir bekannte Buch, was bislang das Thema "Gamification von Apps (nicht unbedingt Spiele)" näher beleuchtet.
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