About the New Genre Taxonomy Project

When I posted about what was at the time dubbed "wargames" (Caillois' agon, Lazzaro's Hard Fun) the other week, I noted that this was part of a new mini-project to create an entirely new genre taxonomy for videogames. The purpose of the exercise is to warm up for the analysis of the data in the new DGD2 survey, which will commence in the Spring. In many respects, this is reviewing some of the key elements of the theory of play developed, and still being refined, by my company International Hobo.

One thing I wanted to make clear about the new taxonomy is that I don't know how this project will turn out. Today, I'm posting the second piece - "rushgames" - which covers Caillois' ilinx, which corresponds to Lazzaro's Serious Fun. However, I truly do not know how we will convert games of chance (Caillois' alea) into elements of a videogame taxonomy, nor am I anywhere close to cataloguing all of the ways world-immersion (Caillois' mimicry) can be used in videogames - nor is it clear whether or not we will have to create additional high level categories beyond Caillois' basic four to encompass all the major patterns of play at use in videogames. I will need the help of the players here at Only a Game to complete the project over the next few months. I'm considering holding a symposium on the use of chance in videogames in the Spring to explore that oft-overlooked topic, and will probably also need assistance in cataloguing the variety of ways mimicry can be used to support play.

It's important to note that all the genre and sub-genre names being suggested are place holders - I will probably re-issue the genre posts at a later date with new names, and I thus welcome discussion about the names chosen. I very much doubt I will stick with "wargames" for competitive/violent games, because this term already has another reading, and chose it at the time solely to fit in with the "War Week" near the end of the "Ethics Campaign". All genre titles are subject to change and consequently your opinions on the names are especially welcome.

For instance, for the two types of game which relate to the fight or flight response, we could make
this more explicit and talk about fight-games and flight-games. Or we could emphasise the element of control in what has been dubbed "rushgames" and use terms like control-games or skill-games for these kinds of games, and note the element of aggression in what's dubbed "wargames" and talk about attack-games.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the names being used both now and throughout the genre taxonomy mini-project. I look forward to reading your thoughts!


Emotions of Play Revisited

Victory Play evokes many emotions, including excitement, relief, anger and fiero – the emotion of triumph over adversity. But what are the relationships between these emotions?

The state of the art player model that draws from emotion research is Nicole Lazzaro’s Four Keys model, which I have touched upon before. “Hard Fun” in this model is associated chiefly with the emotion of fiero (the emotion of victory) which I have discussed before in the context of Roger Callois’ agon (competitive) pattern of play. Lazzaro notes that “Hard Fun” is accompanied by anger and boredom, and this forms the basis of the pattern.

Up until recently, I have primarily been thinking about fiero in the context of competitive play – what I have referred to as “hard agon”. There is no doubt that this is of key importance to the videogame industry, and indeed, many people who work in the industry are incapable of interpreting games in any other context (presumably because this is the kind of play they and their friends enjoy, and thus they fail to recognise that other play styles exist). However, recent observations have given me a new perspective on the issue.

Firstly, let us examine the competitive play pattern, “hard agon”. In competition, the goal is victory and hence fiero, which is probably correlated to a release of certain endorphins in the brain when a challenging goal is achieved. Hard agon is thus goal-oriented play, and the other emotions Lazzaro cites in connection with fiero connect with this: boredom results from the necessary slack in any videogame (for instance, retracing one’s steps, or getting lost by failing to spot the way forward), that is, from losing sight of the goal, while anger (in the form of frustration) results from encountering barriers that block the completion of the goal, or (which is part of the same response) as a result of the player’s perceived inadequacy or poor performance. Since to produce a big payoff of fiero once must perceive (but not necessarily experience) a struggle, this frustration is nearly essential to the ultimate reward of fiero. The more the player struggles against the game, the bigger the emotional reward. 

However, there is a flip side to this. While many gamers hobbyists thrive on this pattern, mass market players do not necessarily share this obsession. It is not that such players do not enjoy fiero – this is a universally enjoyable emotion – it is rather that when playing videogames they will not tolerate the frustration that almost by definition will precede it.

When a competitive athlete feels the game slipping away from them, the frustration (anger) motivates them to step their game up – to push harder towards victory. A player who does not enjoy competitive play (and this represents a far greater proportion of players in the mass market than is usually assumed) rejects any game which tries to evoke this response in them: in fact, such players may not even experience anger in response to the barriers – instead experiencing either confusion (because they do not understand how the game is played) or mild depression (sadness) at what feels like their own inadequacy. Such a player stops playing, and likely concludes that videogames are not for them. 

Lazzaro does not connect excitement to fiero, since she places excitement and relief into a separate pattern “Serious Fun” – however, I question to some extent the validity of this exclusion. While the “Serious Fun” pattern is certainly valid (many puzzle games evoke this potent combination of excitement and relief), it is very difficult to find examples of competitive play that do not evoke excitement as a precursor to fiero. Indeed, I would go to say so far that breaking this combination is practically impossible: one cannot achieve a payoff of fiero unless one is already in an appropriate state of arousal. Excitement correlates with the hormone adrenalin (or epinephrine), while relief probably represents a small release of endorphins (quite possibly different endorphins to those I hypothesise in relation to fiero). It follows, then, that the beginning of the competitive play pattern is excitement, which is usually then heightened by anger to achieve a big payoff of fiero.


Dice_01 Now let us look at fiero in an entirely different context – that of Caillois' alea, the chance play pattern. In games of chance, fiero is also a key emotion; if you watch gamblers, you will see the same tell-tale signs of fiero (screwing up of the face, raising of the hands in victory) when a gambler pulls off the big win. However, in games of chance, Lazzaro’s accompanying emotions of boredom and frustration do not occur. The only other similarity with the competitive play pattern is that excitement is once again the precursor to fiero – the payoff of fiero does not occur unless the player is anticipating the possibility of victory or success, which necessitates some excitement.

An examination of the emotional patterns in connection with games of chance shows that there is something of a sequence involved: the player knows or discovers that they could be about to win (or gain great advantage towards winning) and experiences excitement. When the situation resolves, they experience either fiero in the event that they got lucky, or disappointment (sadness) in the event that they were unlucky. There is no frustration, because the player is not directly responsible for the outcome – in the competitive pattern, the player becomes angry because they could have done better; frustration spurs them to try again, but harder. In the chance pattern, the outcome lies solely in the hands of fate, so there is nothing to provoke frustration – failure instead causes varying degrees of disappointment depending upon the relative cost of that loss. 

To demonstrate this, consider the experience of play in a set-collection game such as rummy or mah jong. Think back to your most intense experiences of playing such games. When your hand is nearly complete – a few cards or tiles are needed to win – you become emotionally aroused as you draw your next card; you feel excitement because you know this card could allow you to win. When you see the card and it is not the card you need, you feel the mild sadness of disappointment. But if the card you see if the one you need to win – success! You flush with fiero as the enjoyment of victory hits you. The payoff may be less than with the anger-enhanced fiero of competitive play, but it is nonetheless highly satisfying (and if a sufficient sum of money has been wagered, the fiero may even be greater).

It is possible that you don’t quite recognise yourself in this pattern – rather than sadness in the event of not drawing the winning card, you might instead experience mild anger. If this is your experience of such games, I put it to you that your native play style favours competitive play – so much so that you bring elements of the competitive play pattern even into games of chance. In this event, it is quite likely that if the choice of game were up to you, you would favour a game with less elements of chance and more opportunities for direct competition – this doesn’t guarantee that you are a gamer hobbyist, but the odds are greatly in favour of this interpretation. 

There is also another form of the chance pattern that occurs in games in which the player is charged with the task of surviving as long as possible, for instance, Tetris. Here, Lazzaro’s “Serious Fun” pattern is more apposite: the player experiences excitement as the tension of the situation heightens (and the body produces adrenalin in response), and relief when they pull themselves out of the worst scrapes. Because the play is continuous with no express goal, i.e. process-oriented, there is no channel for fiero – although one can certainly reorganise such games to include a goal and thus allow for fiero. It is an open question whether doing so would widen the audience for such a game, or narrow it.

Notice also that Lazzaro's “Serious Fun” matches Caillois' ilinx pattern (vertigo), as experienced in a snowboarding game, for instance. Here, the player loses themselves in the process-oriented experience and also experiences excitement and relief, but since there is also a goal (simply to reach the foot of the mountain, if your skills are weak, or to beat other competitors if your skills are strong) there may also be fiero. If the player is focused on the goal, they may experience anger if some mishap befalls them, otherwise they will likely experience the mild sadness of disappointment instead.


What we see here are three very different patterns of emotional response, all relating to similar mechanisms:

  • In the competitive play pattern (hard agon) excitement is a precursor to fiero, which is heightened in the event that anger precedes the eventual attainment of victory.
  • In the goal-oriented chance play pattern (goal alea) excitement is a precursor to the resolution of a major instance of random resolution, which results either in fiero in the event of success or sadness in the event of failure.
  • In the process-oriented play pattern (process alea or ilinx) excitement occurs as a result of increasing tension within the game space, which results in either relief in the event of escape from a difficult situation, or sadness in the event of failure.

Notice that the differences between the three chance patterns are firstly whether the reward is fiero or relief – which I hypothesise are both linked to particular endorphins, although identifying underlying biological mechanisms doesn't necessary add anything to the descriptions - and secondly whether the experience of failure is anger or sadness.

I noted previously how a competitive player might bring their preferred play pattern into a game of chance, experiencing frustration where others might experience disappointment. I also noted how a player who did not favour competition might experience sadness in place of anger when exposed to the competitive play pattern. These observations suggest a particular hypothesis: 

Players naturally prefer either competitive play or non-competitive play (including but not restricted to chance play). Those that prefer competitive play are more likely to experience anger in the event of setbacks, while those who do not are more likely to experience sadness.

This hypothesis is readily testable using Ekman’s facial expression taxonomy (FACS), and if validated would be additional evidence for my general hypothesis that different people prefer different play styles, which I consider at this point to be fairly self-evident but not yet proven to a sufficient rigorous scientific standard in order to qualify as a theory. 

As the videogames industry reaches further and further into the mass market, the old assumptions become less and less useful. Publishers who expect to reach a casual market must abandon to some extent their employees' traditional assumptions of what constitutes a videogame, which almost without exception consists of said employees projecting their personal play preferences for competitive play onto a wider audience who may not share this bias. The enormous popularity of chance-based puzzle games such as the Bejewelled variants demonstrates this distinction, as does the phenomenal success of Nintendogs – an entirely non-competitive game which has sold 16 million units, tying or exceeding the sales of the most popular Grand Theft Auto game. 

Understanding emotions of play is a crucial new aspect of game design, which goes hand-in-hand with understanding the diversity of play styles. The sooner the games industry wakes up to this commercial reality, the sooner we can achieve a more stable base to the market. 


Ultimate Survey Bugs

The Ultimate Game Player Survey announced last week went live with more than its fair share of bugs. While the main body of the survey works fine, the results page had some problems. So if you have already completed the survey, you should note the following bugs:

  • On the results screen, if your preferred style was Ludic this was incorrectly translated as "playful" and similarly Paidic was incorrectly translated as "complex". So if you got a result of "Ludic Agon" this was labelled "Playful Competition", but should have been labelled "Complex Competition". Basically: reverse the words "playful" and "complex" to get the correct result.
  • The types of fun on the results screen have the wrong values - it says 20% when it should say 0%. To correct the values, subtract 20 percentiles and multiply by 1.25.
  • The rating of your abilities as a player seemed to always say "Expert Player" regardless of your actual skills.

All these bugs (and a few more besides!) have now been corrected. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Please do not take the survey again if you have already done so, but feel free to pass the link to anyone who might be interested - especially people who only occasionally play videogames (Casual and beyond...).

You can find the survey itself here.


Ultimate Game Player Survey

This is a copy of a press release issued at the International Hobo site.

International Hobo Ltd is pleased to announce it’s new study into patterns in the game playing audience. Following the success of the company’s seminal DGD1 model, the subject of the acclaimed book 21st Century Game Design, we are now conducting a new survey in more detail than the original, from which we will develop a new DGD2 model of the gaming audience.

To take part in the survey, click here, or upon the Survey link in the site menu [at the ihobo site]. As an added incentive, you could win the game of your choice (terms and conditions apply) just for taking part!

We encourage everyone to pass the relevant link onto anyone who might be interested. Thanks for your support!


Pac-man Research

Ben Cowley, game researcher and Only a Game regular, has a research project for which he'd like volunteers:

I would like to invite you to take part in an experiment being run as part of my PhD project, entitled Player Profiling & Modelling for Adaptive Artificial Intelligence in Computer and Video Games. This experiment aims to address the thorny problem of building into a game, an A.I. that can reason about the player's preferences for the kind of experience they will have.

It involves two parts - gathering of data on player habits, and building an automated modeller based on such data.

The first step is where I need your help - to download and play my Pac-man implementation; and complete an online survey that will determine the type of player you are. All you need do, is proceed to http://zenben.net/dgd/ and follow the instructions!

Should you take part, your privacy is completely assured and I would urge you to forward this mail on to as many people as you think may be interested in playing a free casual game, or advancing the field of game play research (by a tiny amount!).

Many thanks.

I haven't had a chance to try it myself yet, but it sounds fascinating!


The Nine Basic Players (Maybe)

What are the basic types of player? Can we uncover a comprehensive inventory of play styles? What would this teach us about games and game design? 

Below you will find descriptions of nine hypothetical player patterns that I would expect to find by examining the gaming audience in terms of the following three areas:

  • Caillois’ patterns of play, Agon, Alea, Mimicry and Ilinx, plus Ludus and Paidia. No study has ever been conducted on player attitudes to these patterns, and I believe it could be useful.
  • Emotions. Not just the ones Nicole Lazzaro reports in her Four Keys Model (which of course I adore), but all the emotions that might apply: Sadness/Agony, Anger, Surprise/Fear, Disgust/Contempt, Amusement, Contentment, Excitement/Relief, Wonder, Bliss, Fiero, Naches, Elevation, Gratitude, Schadenfreude, Guilt/Shame, Embarrassment, and Envy. Plus emotion-like behaviours such as Curiosity, Belonging and Greed. (See here for more information). I expect to broadly validate the Four Keys model, strengthen the implied connection between Anger and Fiero, and demonstrate further connections previously unexplored such as Amusement outside of People Fun and Contentment as a key play emotion previously overlooked because of the method used for Four Keys.
  • Skills (derived from Temperament Theory), namely Strategic, Tactical, Logistical and Diplomatic skill sets.

Additionally, as before, data on favourite games would be collected. (We didn’t learn much from least favourite games, and I’m disinclined to bother with it this time). A few more pointers will also be included. 

The method will, alas, be survey based, relying on self-reporting. As such, it will be prone to errors, but I believe it may still be worthwhile. As before, we will follow up with case studies.

Now, let’s look at the hypothetical patterns. The first four “basic players” are named after the DGD1 types; the remaining five express areas I feel that first model overlooked. 

 

The (Hypothetical) 9 Basic Players

Conqueror
“I’ll beat any challenge”

  • Play: Hard Agon
  • Emotions: Anger/Fiero, (Fear?)
  • Skills: Strategic, Tactical & Logistical

The fiero-seeking Conqueror is the economic mainstay of the upper market of videogames, thriving on a diet rich in First Person Shooters. Challenge is the draw for this player – when the complaint “it was too easy” is heard, it is heard from a Conqueror. Fiero, the emotion of “triumph over adversity” requires that the player be put through the ringer, pushed to their limits, and as a result anger and (possibly) fear are likely to be related emotions. It is likely that Conquerors are younger on average than other players.

 

Manager
“I have to know how it works”

  • Play: Complex Ludus, Agon
  • Emotions: Contentment, Fiero
  • Skills: Strategic 

The strategic-minded manager is a complexity-seeking player. Games with many rules, including both strategy games, and certain cRPGs, are the mainstay of such a player, although adventure games will also be enjoyed by many. Although fiero is likely to be a theme, the Manager is less dependent upon this one emotion, and seeks the satisfaction of knowledge or mastery, expressed through the feeling of contentment. They can rack up serious hours on the games they really love.

 

Wanderer
“Escape to another world”

  • Play: Mimicry, Paidia
  • Emotions: Wonder, Curiosity, (Fear?)
  • Skills: Tactical & Diplomatic?

The escapist Wanderer seeks immersion in the sense of engagement with an imaginary world. Such a player enjoys the beauty of fantasy worlds, and is driven by a curiosity to see what is out there. Story (specifically characters) is a greater drive than challenge, and indeed the desire to know how the story ends may drive engagement with any game. Fear may be enjoyed for the experience, in the manner of a fairground spook house.

 

Participant
“Let’s play together”

  • Play: Agon? Paidia?
  • Emotions: Belonging, Amusement, Naches
  • Skills: Any?

The archetypal social player, the Participant doesn’t want to play alone. Although competition (agon) is enjoyed, it is enjoyed principally for the opportunity to be part of something taking place between people. The need to belong, to be part of something, is likely to be expressed most strongly with such a player.

 

Hoarder
“As much as I can get”

  • Play: Mimicry, Ludus?
  • Emotions: Greed, Contentment
  • Skills: Logistical

The logistically minded Hoarder cannot resist acquisition of game resources. Likely found playing equipment-heavy cRPGs, as well as MMORPGs, the Hoarder is a thorough player, gaining satisfaction (and hence contentment) from the completion of “stamp collections” and the like. When they finish a game, they usually find they have accumulated an absurd amount of equipment, ammunition or money.

 

Zoner
“Time has lost all meaning”

  • Play: Simple Ludus, Alea, Ilinx?
  • Emotions: Excitement, Relief
  • Skills: Tactical 

Puzzle games are the zoner’s remit – lost in the flow of an abstract game, they become intent upon the actions of the game they are playing to the exclusion of all else. However, as much as they love the games they play, they may not play for long period of times. Short games played often is the nature of the experience.

 

Juggernaut
“Knock ‘em down”

  • Play: Easy Agon, Mimicry, Paidia
  • Emotions: Amusement, Contentment, Excitement
  • Skills: Tactical?

The Juggernaut seeks a little resistance in the game they are playing, but mostly wants to push through everything with comparative (and amusing!) ease. A little excitement is desired, but the Juggernaut isn’t looking for the degree of challenge that would consistently supply fiero. Rather, they just want to play around – often completely dominating the game they are playing. For the Juggernaut, games aren’t about stress, they’re about unwinding.

 

Monster
“Evil is my middle name”

  • Play: Agon, Paidia
  • Emotions: Schadenfreude, Amusement
  • Skills: Strategic? Tactical 

The emotion of schadenfreude – taking delight in the misfortune of others – drives the Monster. Mischief is their primary occupation – “griefing” of strangers in a MMOG, and playful annoyance when among friends. The Monster player is not interested in rules – except in so much as they can find new ways to break them.

 

Hotshot
“The thrill of the ride”

  • Play: Ilinx, Mimicry
  • Emotions: Excitement, Relief, (Fear?)
  • Skills: Tactical

The master of high speeds and nail biting rides, the Hotshot is the master of vertigo (ilinx). The ultimate payoff of victory (fiero) will be enjoyed, but it is the experience of being at the brink of control – the excitement (and perhaps fear) of being right on the edge that is the driving force. 

 

Even this is not comprehensive, as I have (for example) intentionally set aside the issue of people making things inside a game space such as Second Life, or decorating in The Sims. This related area of crafting is outside of the scope of play as defined for our purposes, but could be an interesting area of research in its own right.

I plan to construct the questions in such a way as to be 'neutral' to the models used as inspiration. A side effect of the survey, therefore, will be to test whether various traits that are presumed to correlate with one another actually do so in practice!

I do not doubt that the actual “basic players” that will be discovered in this new survey will not match up to the hypothetical examples listed here, but by suggesting what may be found, we codify our expectations, allowing us to look at what we might expect this research to uncover, and what questions we can usefully ask. 

Do you recognise yourself in any of the “9 Basic Players” described here? Let me know how this relates to you in the comments! (Personally, I recognise myself in the Juggernaut, Hoarder and Wanderer, but I still have the residue of my Conqueror and Manager roots: that’s how I used to play when I was younger.) 

Also, any input on the methodology will be gratefully received. 


Nine

Nine months later…

It has been more than nine months since I have posted on the long and arduous journey towards the DGD2 model. The reason for this has been a certain doubt about the value of the work, rooted in an ongoing uncertainty as to how we might approach it. Now, after much careful consideration and some study, I believe I am ready to get back upon the horse.

The first stumbling block for me was the sure knowledge that I could not attempt DGD2 without getting someone better versed in statistics on board. I can manage statistics, but I am far better at mechanical mathematics – I can derive special relativity from first principles faster than I can perform a single proportions test, which makes stat analysis a poor use of my time. 

I have now committed to recruiting a statistics-competent research partner to help with the work, and indeed have found someone who seems both willing and able to do so.

The post that follows represents the basic approach I am now planning to pursue. The “9 Basic Players” reported in it are not the result of research, per se, but rather hypothetical categories guiding the formation of the survey. I expect when we do the work we will find something rather different – as to what, well, that’s the wonder of research. If I knew what we would find, it wouldn’t be worth looking!


BBFC Audience Report

The BBFC (British Board of Film Certification) have published a report entitled Video Games and subtitled Research to improve understanding of what players enjoy about video games and to explain their preferences for particular games. You can read it here.

I haven't had time to go through it in detail yet, but it seems to frequently reach conclusions based on majority positions that  would not be reflected in a more differentiated model. It would be nice if researchers looked at the work that was already done before wading in, but I guess every new study adds something of value.

A few interesting notes:

  • They sensible note that 'Generalisation is hazardous because of the variety of behaviour' (point 7), but still make a lot of generalisations.
  • Stories: They seem to be confused about the importance of story to games, believing because many players are involved in the process of solving the game problems that this creates a disconnect with story content (point 18): 'For most gamers, but with emphatic exceptions, storylines appear to be a relatively weak element in the overall appeal of games.' Other studies contradict this claim, and division of the audience into clusters also breaks down this claim.
  • Crying: Further evidence, if such was needed, that games already make people cry (point 19 and p55 - not p54 as quoted in the report).
  • Humour: They dismiss humour as a conspicuous draw for games (point 21), but recognise that this factor is present. Probably, this is key economic factors (fiero/excitement/immersion et al) drowning out important secondary factors.
  • Violence: Some of the best commentary in the report is on this subject. 'We need to note that many games, including some of the most popular, do not contain any violence at all' (point 24), and 'gamers seem not to lose awareness that they are playing a game and do not mistake the game for real life' (point 27). It is also nice to see comparisons with other media handled: 'most gamers are not seriously concerned about violence in games... [and] think violence on television and in films is more upsetting than violence in games' (point 33). Finally: 'Gamers exonerate games of any responsibility for real violence because they are so confident that their own propensity to be violent has not been affected by playing games' (point 34).
  • Unreality: on children losing touch with real life, I was amused by this comment: '[Parents] complain that children who play a lot of games become monosyllabic and unsociable, emerging from their rooms pasty-faced and zombie-like after hous of incomprensible engagement with a fantasy world' (point 38).
  • Age Classifications: This is a key area that the BBFC is interested in, and another strength of the report. As has been observed before: 'Some parents simply ignore classifications' (point 43), but additionally: 'Many parents seem inhibited about exercising authority in this area' (point 44).

If you check it out, be sure to let me know any thoughts you have!


Relenting on the Parks Report

When I first commented on the Parks Associates report on videogames (Electronic Gaming in the Digital Home), I was slightly mean spirited. However, Michael Cai from the company was on my panel at GDC this year, and managed to change my mind the moment he characterised the work as a "consumer study, not an player study." Furthermore, seeing the data his team has pulled up is really quite interesting.

For instance, their Power Gamer segment (arguably equivalent to the classic "Hardcore" player) is responsible for $3,263.3 million in the US market, and their Dormant Gamer segment (arguably representing players who no longer have the time to be "Hardcore" owing to changes in their lives) is responsible for $2,240.2 million - almost 70% extra on top of the core spend is there for players needing games structured around shorter play sessions, and less long-term grinding. This speaks well of the market prospects for Reluctant Hero, as a specific example.

So my apologies to Parks Associates - I misjudged you. I look forward to more reports in the future.


My Sister's Immunity

Visiting my sister's house on the way out of the UK was a pleasant diversion from the trials of departure. She said to me at one point:

    "I tried to take your test" (referring to the DGD1 test), "but I couldn't."
    "Oh," I replied, "we're moving the site across to a new server, so it was probably down."
    "No, you misunderstand," she replied. "I couldn't answer the questions."

You see, the trouble with the DGD1 test as it stands is that it presuposes the player has played conventional videogames. If, like my sister, you have no such experience to draw on, many of the questions are meaningless. (This wasn't a problem with the original survey, which was worded more neutrally, just with the DGD1 test, which was written explicitly to explain the categories the original survey produced - and inadvertently made assumptions about the person taking the test).

There is a lesson here about the so-called Casual market. The people on the fringes of our industry do play games -  sometimes many and sometimes often, in fact - but they do not necessarily play the kind of games that you and I think of when we think of videogames. They play word games, or simple puzzle games, or (now it exists) Wii Sports... they play games which do not require the complex skills and implicit videogame knowledge that most videogames require.

For anyone who hopes to reach this audience, your games must be considerably simpler than you may feel is necessary.