This article was published on: 1/8/2010

Hot Air Balloon

“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.

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  1. Wayne Imlach Said,

    “What is fascinating about human nature is our capacity to not learn from the mistakes of others”

    Is that a typo?

  2. pcollier Said,

    Hey Wayne, nope no typo but it’s interesting that you think people do learn from others mistakes. I feel that others peoples mistakes mean less to you because there is no context, you missed the rest of the lesson. Therefore in game design if you give them answers when the player has never really been asked the questions the game loses its resonance. In a sort of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” kind of way.

  3. Eric Redekop Said,

    tenant: person who rents
    tenet: principle

  4. pcollier Said,

    How embarrassing. Thank you!

  5. Gaming Reality » Blog Archive » Emotional Residue Said,

    […] fascinating thing about games as a medium is that they allow for personal discovery a lot more. I’ve touched on this before. In books and to an extent in films they selectively show or describe a world to you. In games […]

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