Happy Solstice Spake Zarathustra

An Apology

I keep spelling Nicole Lazzaro's name incorrectly as 'Nicole Lazarro'. I'm very sorry, Nicole. Thankfully, it's correct in the book. I'll try and get it right in the future. In the unlikely event you read this, please write a book.  Thanks.


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Hi Chris,

I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Thanks for checking the spelling of my last name, delighted that it's correct in print. It's Lazzaro like "puzzle player" with 2 z's and 1r.

What would you like my book to be about? =)


Truly the network effect of the internet is mind boggling. I wonder who else I can summon to my blog just by namechecking them. :)

I'm serious about you needing to get a book out - there's far too much a priori reasoning about play in the industry. Your approach based upon direct observation deserves more attention, and your Four Keys model should be being plugged by you and not me. :)

Looking forward to your talk at GDC this year, assuming I'm not scheduled opposite it like last year! :)

Thanks Chris, the network continues to amaze me.

So many models are pulled out of thin air. Many of them are interesting, some are amusing. The "my model is better than your model" debates are fun to watch as well. My issue with many is that cultural artifacts can be turned to support several views on the same phenomena. My issue with others is that they are based on statistically significant samples of tenuous data. Self-selection bias aside, surveys require players to be aware of, remember, and be able to describe why they play when they fill out a web form.

It seemed to me that it would be best to hack this problem from the player's perspective.

I'll be doing a tutorial this year at GDC along with Katherine Isbister. XEODesign's PlayShops are becoming been pretty popular, and I wanted to offer the opportunity to demonstrate how my Four Keys model is used to create more emotion in games as well as understand where it comes from.

A small plug: "Emotion Boot Camp: Putting More Emotion into Play" March 21st at GDC.

In true PlayShop fashion, it's a full day of games designed to teach developers about how to get more emotion out of game play as opposed to cut scenes. Hope to see you there!

In terms of books, I'm writing a chapter on designing emotions for games for an Interface Design textbook. Perhaps it's a trial run.

Certainly one of the many problems with the DGD1 model was that we relied heavily on surveys in the first round, although the case studies helped offset this somewhat. That was chiefly because surveys are cheap. :)

Another problem was the Myers-Briggs typology data, as no paper test is very accurate, and we were just counting on the trends to balance out and reveal a pattern in the broad scope. Still, the MB stuff is effectively separate to the play styles revealed, so it's a flaw, but not necessarily a fatal flaw.

My view on the DGD1 model is that it's better than nothing, and at the very least it gives us some new things to think about: it's principle observation is that there are differences in play style, and that game playing is a diverse activity, even with the same game! Also, since it dovetailed reasonably well with your observational research, it gave me more confidence that there was something worthwhile in it somewhere. :) It got people thinking - which is usually worthwhile.

What I'm trying to do in DGD2 is design games which can record play information directly, although it's an insurmountable battle to fit this into the rest of the work schedule!

A tutorial with Katherine Isbister (whose name I also spell wrong all the time - usually as 'Ibister') sounds fantastic... It's a shame I never make it to the tutorial days at GDC - my schedule seldom allows for it. :(

As for 'my model is better than your model' - it was ever thus. Before science, it was religion. Some people just like to argue. :)

I'm looking forward to reading your book. A practical first step is doing qualitative research before quantitative. So I'm interested to see how you built on our qualitative results. That was the point of releasing the Four Keys, so others could build on it.

In terms of models, I guess I like to listen in on seminar discussion where minds meet to compare and contrast rather than food-fights where participants defend their ground at all costs. Call this the truth-seeker in me.

In reality "the truth is out there" and a model is only as valuable as the light it sheds on what's real. In my mind models are tools for thought and in our case game design. They have little inherent value in and of themselves, except as fascinating curiosities.

Yes, I share this view. A model is a lens through which we gain a certain perspective... different model, different perspective. I do not greatly believe in big-t Truth - or at least, I do not believe it is actually knowable. :) But we can look through many different lenses and have a better idea of what might be 'out there'.

It would be good to get together with you and Katherine at GDC, if our schedules allow. (I tried to meet with Katherine last year - but it didn't quite come together!) We can try and arrange something over email closer to the time, if you're amenable.

I appreciate you taking the time to call in here - I've been blogging for less than six months, and I'm constantly amazed at how it functions! At some point, I'd be fascinated to hear how you stumbled upon it: I really wasn't anticipating that you'd actually read what I wrote, rather, I wanted to take a concrete action to lodge the spelling of your name permanently in my memory! I now have your 'puzzle player' mnemonic to rely upon. :)

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