The Black Library: File Sharing Thought Experiments
Militant Atheists?

What is Endured Always Enhances Enjoyment

It is one of the strangest aspects of play that whatever can be endured will ultimately serve to enhance the enjoyment of the player who perseveres. Tolerating repetition adds satisfaction to the completing task. Tolerating difficulty in challenges turns mere success into glowing victory. Tolerating frustratingly obscure puzzles leads to smug triumph when they are eventually cracked.

Of course, each of these ordeals to be endured will also exclude certain players from reaching their eventual rewards. Not everyone is willing to endure tedium, difficulty or obscurity. But it is striking to note that the same things which cause certain players to give up a game are the very things which make it worth playing for others. This is more than just ‘different strokes for different folks’ – it seems as if whatever a player will endure ultimately ends up enhancing the reward they experience.

Cross-posted from ihobo; comments accepted on either blog.

Comments

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I'm not sure how to respond to this. Many game reviews legitimately appeal to the repetitiveness of a game as a flaw. However taking a more charitable approach I can see what you are trying to get at.

The notion of 'achievements' in things from XBox Live to foursquare show that gamers/real people are quite keen on repetition and some perseverance for a greater sense of achievement or establish a kind of completeness, consider also for instance the collective person who might want to finish a sticker album, have the whole collection in a toy range or a stamp collector, there is seemingly something intrinsic to the activity that is rewarding.

I also think having a voluntary sense of completion in a game makes a gamer more eager and enjoying of said repetition. I have one game in mind: JET FORCE GEMINI, this would have been the best game in the N64 product line if it werent' for the mandatory completion of the collection of the little teddy bears in order to complete the game. I absolutely positively hate that game for that one reason.

You should not force gamers to aim for completeness, but give them a choice to aim for it if they want. Getting all the armours in Halo: Reach, finishing all the sidequests in a given Final Fantasy (including defeating the optional Ultima boss), gives challenge and satisfaction by choice. But forcing repetitive dungeon maps or mandatory tedious side quests is a game design flaw in my view.

In summary: forced completion = gaming flaw, optional completion = gaming virtue. Gamers have vastly different goals and psychologies, normally the commercially successful kinds of games are those which accomodate as wide an audience as possible. That said, does that make them good? (That's a whole other can of worms)

I think what you are meaning to say is more nuanced than what how you described, but I do sympathise with that view, as a gamer (I still dislike Jet Force Gemini)

Fond regards,
Michael

Michael: as you intimate here, my point is more general and goes to what (different) people enjoy, and how - counter-intuitively - something that is endured can enhance enjoyment. But of course, *what* people are willing to endure varies from person to person - and this has commercial, market effects, of the kind you allude to here.

"You should not force gamers to aim for completeness..."

I can't help but read "should" as an ethical imperative, so I'd be inclined to paraphrase and say "Forcing players to aim for completeness narrows the audience". In commercial games, narrowing the audience *can* be acceptible, if doing so makes the game *better* for that audience.

For instance, Nipponichi strat-RPG games have a very narrow audience - but those that like these games *love* them. So too we might imagine an audience of "super-completionist" and games targeting them. But one would hope such games could "wear their colours on their sleeve", and not inflict their play on those who would detest it. :)

"Gamers have vastly different goals and psychologies, normally the commercially successful kinds of games are those which accommodate as wide an audience as possible. That said, does that make them good? (That's a whole other can of worms)"

Actually, it's becoming clear that this kind of argument is not clear cut - a mass market game such as Wii Sports has this goal, but doesn't necessarily appeal to hobbyists, who have more refined tastes. I could make a parallel with potboiler novels and genre fiction. The former sells more copies, but the audience for the latter buy more books. So it is with games. So being "all inclusive" isn't always the best commercial strategy.

But now we are *wildly* wide of the topic of this post!

Thanks for commenting!

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