Monday, February 19

He going for the Loss...

Letting the Player Lose
When's the last time you played a game where, no matter how hard you tried, you lost? This question is the basis for designer Ben Schneider's article recently featured on Gamasutra, entitled Losing For the Win: Defeat and Failure in Gaming. Schneider poses an argument that losing is games is good. Not making the game impossible to beat, but, designing a game so that the player has no control over winning a situation. He says this is good for two reasons: One, it can be used to drive a story forward. And two, it can make winning later on all that much more satisfying. Schneider makes an excellent argument, this article is well worth reading, and the concept even more worth pondering.
Schneider does not think this is easy to pull off however. He thinks incurring regret in players is the greatest potential pitfall of designing a game where the player loses. He makes one statement in particular which is really quite profound:
Books and movies have a huge advantage in not incurring regret in their audience. Their “players” have no agency; as much as they may dislike a twist in the plot, it’s not their fault. As game designers, we must reckon with regret. Our players have to do more than like the story; they have to accept each turn of events and roll with them, and never wonder if they should have gone back to get it right.
THIS is the beauty of video games. The power to involve people. Players are a part of the game; more then a participant, they are the core that all else revolves around. A cliche perhaps? "With great power comes great responsibility." As game designers, we are able to exert from complete to little control over a player's actions. Sometimes one way serves players better, other times the opposite-we must discern the benefits of each for individual situations. Players understand winning as a means to a game's completion. Schneider wants them to understand losing as serving this function as well: for games to be designed in such a way that losing both advances and enhances the story, and also has an effect upon the player.

Thinking of Loss
In what whays would losing in a game be better then winning?
What types of ways can a player lose (eg. automatic cutscene)?
Which do you prefer and why?

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