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Thursday, May 28, 2009
Vogel Discusses The Mechanics Of Addiction Based Game Design
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 5 comments

Jeff Vogel has released the twelfth installment of his View From The Bottom developer column. This time Spiderweb Software's RPG creator discusses the methods game developers use to tap into the addictive tendencies of players, and examines whether or not such addictive gameplay is truly evil.

The nice thing about actually defining this particular element of a design is that now, we can look for it in all sorts of games, not just MMORPGs. Lego Star Wars and other titles in that series are based almost entirely on heavy use of addiction-based design. Tower defense games use it too, rewarding you with stronger defenses in return for destroying nearly identical waves of attackers. They compress many iterations of the grind/reward cycle into one short play session.

Some of us still have hope for the genre as an art form, as something that can be really deep and fulfilling. For this to be possible, a game has to engage more than just one part of the mind.

To see the phenomenon reduced to its purest essence, be sure to download the free parody RPG Progress Quest. It plays itself, letting you watch the experience bar fill up. What's disturbing is how satisfying watching it can be.

On the other hand, some games lack addiction-based design completely. Consider Rock Band and Left 4 Dead, two where the play itself is the main reward. It's mostly unimportant whether any of your progress playing them is saved or not.

Addiction-based design is the sort of thing that can cause a knee-jerk negative response, but in fact, this sort of reinforcement has more of a place in good game design than you might think. The feeling of satisfaction we get from these sorts of rewards is real - peculiar, but real. It is a powerful tool, one we would be foolish to ignore.
Click over to the link below to read the full article.

View From The Bottom #12
Spiderweb Software

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