Designing (online) games

Designing (online) games is a wide discipline developing rapidly. Specific expertise is needed to design and realise online games. Raul Kübarsepp (2017) from the university of Tartu in Estonia shared his knowledge on designing games through an extensive powerpoint – here.

The 7 steps in designing games:

  1. Choosing a goal and a topic (objectives and premise)
  2. Research an preparation
  3. Design phase
  • Input Output Structure (interface)
  • Game Structure (Gameplay and Game Mechanics)
  • Program Structure
  • Evaluation of the Design
  1. Pre-programming phase
  2. Programming phase
  3. Playtesting phase
  4. Post-Mortem

Online tools are available to facilitate the design process, like DUNDOC – here

DUNDOC is an online tool for game developers to start and develop a game idea while collaborating with their team of artists, designers, developers, etc. to contribute to the evolution of the idea.

To get an impression of the DUNDOC environment:

Designing Gamification

Implementing game characteristics in real life classroom interaction can be done by the teacher. The opportunities for (online) Gamification are quite a few. Some tips

  1. Keep it simple

The power of a game is in the simplicity. The game is challenging but the goal and the rules are clear. For example, consider Pac man or Tetris. An extremely simple concept, but because of the challenge it remains fun to play.

  1. Contribute to the intrinsic motivation

Gamification is not about controlling and controlling your target group. Gamification must enrich their experience and help them achieve their goals. And if they do you also benefit from that. That is why it is important to find the drive, the intrinsic motivation of your target group and to respond to that. A handy model for this is the Bartle player types model.

Bartle player model

Achievers ( about 10 %) are all about points and status. They want to be able to show their friends how they are progressing. They like to collect badges and put them on display. This is the type of person who responds particularly well to incentive schemes such as Air Miles, where every additional mile collected is an achievement in its own right.

Explorers (about 10 %) want to see new things and discover new secrets. They’re not as bothered about points or prizes. For them, discovery is the prize. Explorers really enjoy the surprise that’s possible in a game.

The vast majority of players are Socializers (almost 80%). Socializers experience fun in their games through their interaction with other players. Socializers are happy to collaborate in order to achieve bigger and better things than they could on their own. Whatever the deal is, the point with Socializers is that joining forces makes sense to them.

Killers (less than 1%) are similar to Achievers in the way that they get a thrill from gaining points and winning status too. What sets them apart from Achievers is that the Killers want to see other people lose. They’re highly competitive and winning is what motivates them. They want to be the best at the game—and it should come as little surprise that the only way for that to be true is if they beat everyone else.

  1. Look out for extrinsic motivation

By rewarding people with prizes, you stimulate the motivation in the short term but the intrinsic motivation falls. The action might be a success, but it will not take care of actual behavioural change. In fact, after the action people will fall back in their original behaviour.

  1. Use the correct SET techniques

There are numerous game techniques that you can divide into System, Elements and Tools. Not every game technique suits your users or goal so it is important that you choose the right techniques. Look further than just badges, points and leader boards. Think for example of easter eggs (hidden messages), epic meaning (making something impossible), status and the power of cooperation (community collaboration).

Sources and Further reading

  • The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell – here
  • The GAMEit handbook by Mathias Poulsen and Ebba Køber – here