In the last year, we’ve seen the publication of the Trust Spectrum, and broad discussion of the ph2016 paper Game design patterns that facilitate strangers becoming Friends. But both of these papers, rightfully, take a hands-off approach to defining design best practices for motivating players to play together. Friendship and trust are a challenging frame to motivate from.
Another ph2016 paper has received less discussion: Design for Collaborative Play. It’s worth expanding on Collaborative Play, and thinking deeply about what mechanics produce collaborative play, what leads to feelings of companionship, and the implications for friendship, the trust spectrum, and general social design.
I believe Collaborative Play is the main reason players love cooperative experiences in games, and is thus the main driver of (game-specific) stranger-to-friendship relationship change. Therefore, its nature (and constraints) shape social design theory. That further understanding would greatly improve related frameworks like the trust spectrum.
- What defines collaborative play? What separates general “I’m in a group” play from collaborative play? (Even when they are on teams.)
- Why is collaborative play such a strong motivator?
- Beyond proximity and similarity, what rules create collaborative play? What are the best practices for mechanics, shared goals, rewards, etc?
- What feedback enhances collaborative play? Environment, call and response, culture, etc?
- How is collaborative play informed by the trust spectrum? How does collaboration change at different trust levels?
- Does collaborative play design inherently encourage players to particular trust levels?
- What are the best practices for encouraging collaborative play?
- One example, to show there’s more to discover: clear, authentic, positive reactions to assistance.)
- What is companionship? How is it separate from belonging/relatedness? From friendship?
- What creates feelings of companionship? What conditions cause collaborative play to lead to companions?
- Can companionship exist with NPCs? What separates real people from Epona or Garrus or your dog? What separates players from NPCs?