Games that are BAD for you!

Posted on Posted in 2016 Selected Workgroup Topics, 2016 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Many game designers (myself included) have been thinking about how to make games that aren’t just fun, but also make people better, and/or change the world for the better.  It’s hard, ’cause while we know of games that already try, it’s always harder to evaluate game MECHANICS for “goodness”, instead of just “fun”.

So I had a thought; suppose we find the games that benefit us (as humans), by trying to find the opposite of games that hurt or poison us (as humans).  And to do that, we first have to find, study and design games that hurt or poison us (as humans).

Clearly we’ll run straight into the embedded thinking we all share; games are Art, artists can do what they want, personal responsibility, who are you to judge, blah blah blah.

And I can’t help the thought that this workgroup might be creating Ultron, or otherwise Meddling in God’s Domain.

Still, I’d like to join a few brave, foolhardy souls in an examination and analysis of games that are BAD for us (so we can eventually make games that are GOOD for us).

2 thoughts on “Games that are BAD for you!

  1. Playing Crusader No Remorse years ago. At one point after using the flamethrower yet again on an enemy….late at night, and hearing the horrible screams, I realized that I couldn’t play the game anymore. I’m happy to kill “hosts” all day in most games, but this was too much, the perfect combination of sound, animation and realistic death (for the time). Not sure how relevant, but there you go.

  2. The category that I feel hurts my soul the most are those games that suck up time while offering little or no joy or intrinsic growth in return. Of course there were the innovations of the social gaming boom that built designs around timers and power curves (of which I worked on more than a few 🙁 ), but the games that I feel the most harmed by are those that leverage RPG progression systems to extend shallow experiences – especially single player games where there isn’t at least a social component to offset the grind. As a game designer, a key responsibility is often to find ways to maintain a player’s engagement as long as possible. As a player, as I’ve grown older, I have had to learn to become more discerning about when the time a game of asking me is worthy of what it takes. Despite best intentions, these two perspectives are often at odds. The line is very subjective (my biases as a mature connoisseur is in direct opposition to consumers for whom maximizing hours logged is a measure of value), and compulsive/addictive personalities amplify the degree to which this is a problem, but broadly speaking, I think gaming would be a more virtuous hobby if respect for players time was a core virtue in the business.

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