This article was published on: 1/8/2010
“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”
James Joyce – Ulysses (1922)
What is fascinating about human nature is our capacity to not learn from the mistakes of others. Yet we are totally reliant on outside stimuli for validation or adaptation of our thought processes. Activities which test and scrutinise this internal drive are important, as they allow us to fine tune our view of the world.
Of course these activities come in many different forms. Games can specialise in a degree of pliability, allowing players to push boundaries in a safe environment. Players can explore and even enjoy the process of making mistakes because they are free of real-world repercussions.
The process of discovery is more exciting than having something shown to us. It has value because it is unique to us and the gain provides personal advantage over others.
In game design this is an essential tenet to remember. The more the player feels led down the garden path the less interesting your garden becomes. A rigid or overly engineered design can often fail within a game system for this reason.
Clever movies, clever books, clever games, clever whatever, all resonate by allowing discovery. Give answers too readily or obviously at your peril as it’ll not easily be forgiven.