这个文件夹里有传统游戏（如拼字游戏）、热门游戏（《Words with Friends》、《切绳子》）、益智游戏、冒险游戏、街机风格的游戏等。类型广泛。有些游戏我只玩了一次；有些我玩了非常多次（即使我并没有很喜欢它们）。我仍然希望知道是什么让我不太喜欢的游戏流行起来，为什么有些人认为它们有趣，我可以借鉴其中的什么机制。
《Rise of the Blob》（Facebook、Android、iPad）：这是一款恐怖游戏。与《机械迷城》完全相反，游戏中有大量奖励和成就，因为它是靠IAP获得收益的。思考一下你对这么多奖励和成就的看法，以及你对这款游戏的兴趣能维持多久。
《The Grading Game》：我喜欢这款游戏的设计，我认为非常巧妙。思考一下你对其美学、游戏目标、消极反馈的运用（在学习型游戏中一般不使用消极反馈）、以及以时间作为严格的约束。消极方面，你认为把“教学”信息放进规则中如何？是否可以改进？如果可以，你会怎么改？
《Mystery Math Mansion》（iPad）：这款游戏针对的是学生。注意游戏的美学、奖励系统和选择数字还是符号的策略。也有必要注意一下，它们如何把游戏活动与成就等级相结合。问你自己，游戏的目标（解放萤火虫）是不是符合目标受众的期待。你认为目标受众会重复玩这款游戏几次？
Learning Game Design Series, Part 1: Play and Evaluate Games
by Sharon Bollergame
Last week’s post gave an overview of the entire process for getting started in learning game design or creating game-based learning. This post focuses on Step 1, which is to play and evaluate games. If you don’t like playing games, don’t try to design a game because you’re going to hate this step. Game design is a bit like writing a book; you’d never attempt to write a book if you first hadn’t spent time reading and evaluating several books. Those who would attempt to write a book without having ever read one probably wouldn’t create any great work of literature.
So step 1 is to play a lot of games—and play a lot of different types of games. If you focus on one particular genre (video games, board games, etc.), then you should expand your horizons and explore different genres and game forms. As you play all these different kinds of games, think about what makes them “fun” to play and how the game’s mechanics and elements make them fun. (If they aren’t fun for you, what makes them fun for others? You’re not the target audience for every game you play.)
Read on to discover three things:
Why FUN matters
How to evaluate games you play to learn more about game design and get ideas for designing your own games
Six games to play and evaluate to help you get started
Why FUN matters
Why the focus on fun? Because the fun in a game helps learning happen—or IS the learning. Fun is not frivolous; it’s integral to a successful game. Kevin Werback, in his Coursera MOOC on gamification, identifies eight types of fun in games. These eight types of fun all happen to integrate nicely with learning, or are things people need to learn to do.
Winning (You think this doesn’t link to the workplace? We all like to achieve a win state – over a challenge, over a competitor, over ourselves – beating a previous personal best, for example.)
Achieving goals (Humans are goal-driven creatures. Goals are highly motivating to most of us and achieving them is very satisfying. Goals in games that link to the real-life learning we want a target group to do can be powerful and effective. Goals are everywhere in business: reducing percentage of scrap, reducing number of safety incidents, increasing sales by X, adding X customers. There’s behavior change required to achieve most goals; that frequently requires learning how to do something differently or better than you currently do it.)
Triumphing – this can be triumphing over a competitor, or the game itself, or over individual challenges within the game. Many of us enjoy feeling victorious, particularly if we gained victory by mastering a difficult problem or challenge. We have feelings of triumph in the workplace as well: vanquishing a difficult project, prevailing against difficult business odds or challenges, etc.
Collaborating – a highly valuable business skill, this is a fun element of many games, too. People get social and emotional satisfaction out of collaborating with others. Often people enjoy collaboration much more than they enjoy competing. And organizations WANT people to collaborate in the workplace to achieve business results.
Exploring and building – Games like Sims, Minecraft, and Civilization are about doing these things – and many people find exploration and building powerfully motivating and “fun” to do – so fun, in fact, that they can spend literally hours of time doing these things within a game. These are key skills inside the workplace. Exploration is an under-rated business skill that closely links to something more people understand within business: research.
Collecting – lots of games feature a collection “dynamic” where players’ goal is to collect certain things. Poker is essentially a collection game – collect the best cards and you win. The Pokemon card craze of a few years ago is about collection. The board game Risk combines collection – acquiring territories – with strategizing. HOW will you gain those territories? Collection appeals to many people’s sense of fun and can be incorporated easily into learning games. In the business world, we often have to collect information before we can move forward with decisions.
Problem-solving or strategizing – these are higher-order thinking skills that lots of people enjoy doing. Consequently games that feature these elements have lots of fans. Chess is a classic example of a strategy game. World of Warcraft is a modern-day example. Games in the adventure genre are all about problem-solving – figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B. Problem-solving and strategizing are part of growing and managing any business – and most jobs within a business.
Role playing or imagining – many games allow us to do one or both of these things and people love doing them. Second Life, a once-popular virtual environment, leveraged people’s desire to role play by allowing people to create avatars to represent themselves. GameOn Learning has two learning games that both have the learner imagine themselves in a different place and time – while learning time management and negotiation skills. Fantasy can provide a powerful means of letting people feel free to try new behaviors and acquire new skills while feeling safe and minimizing fear of failure.
Okay, so you have a list of fun. Now, how many games should you play to help build your skill set? My answer? A lot—and never stop playing new ones! I have three folders on my iPad labeled Games, Games 1, Games 2. Here’s a view of one of these folders:
This folder contains a mixture of traditional games (Scrabble), popular games (Words with Friends, Cut the Rope), puzzle-type games, adventure games, arcade style games, etc. It’s highly eclectic. Some of these games I may only play once; others I will play multiple times (even if I don’t like them very much). I still want to understand what makes them popular, why some people thing they are fun, and what mechanics within them might trigger an idea I could use in a game I create.
Evaluating what you play
Playing games for enjoyment is different than playing games to evaluate the quality and efficacy of the game design. Here’s a laundry list of questions that go through my mind as I play games with evaluation of them on my mind:
What’s the game goal? Is it clear? Is it compelling to me? Why or why not?
What’s the game’s core dynamic? Is it exploration, collection, “race to the finish,” solve—or a blend of two different dynamics such as collection AND race to the finish?
Are the rules clear? How do I learn them?
What game mechanics (aka rules) make the game most fun? Which one(s) would I change? What would happen if I did? (Suggestion: Try changing one of the mechanics and re-playing the game to see how it alters the play experience and the sense of “fun.”)
Do the aesthetics of the game draw me in? What emotional reaction do the aesthetics elicit in me?
Is the game “balanced” in the sense that it accommodates different player levels? How?
Do I feel like the game is a good match for its target audience? (We play games intended for school-aged kids at times. I have to evaluate the game’s play in the context of who it is intended for, which isn’t me.)
Is there a story associated with this game? How does it enhance the game play experience? How did the designers weave the story throughout the game? If they didn’t, why not? Would it add/detract from the game if they did?
What’s the balance between strategy and chance? Do I feel like I have control over the outcome by the choices I make in the game or do I feel the outcome is almost all chance? (e.g. the card game War is all chance. Chess is strategy.) How does the “chance” factor affect how I feel about the game?
Is the game cooperative, competitive, or a blend of both? How does this make me feel as I play the game? Does it increase or decrease my motivation to play?
If the game is competitive and I lose, how does this make me feel? Does it motivate me to play again or do I want to avoid playing again so I can avoid losing?
If it’s a digital game, how easy is it to navigate? How clear is the navigation? Can I quickly learn by exploring?
Finally, as a learning game designer, what elements from this game could I use in a game I design?
Here’s a starter list of 6 games to play and evaluate. One of them is a board game, the other five are digital games. In my suggestions I’ve included some notes of my evaluation of the game design and game play to show you how I do it. (I’m not saying this is the only right way – just my way). Keep in mind I am including games in this list that I do NOT consider to be fun. You have to play some bad with the good. It helps you contrast and compare.
Settlers of Catan board game. This is one of the best games I’ve played and I admit to loving it. Here’s some of my notes and evaluative comments:
This game leverages both cooperation and competition. I like that. My motivation to cooperate depends on how well I’m doing and how well others in the game are doing. I notice that if four people are playing, two people may cooperate to hinder a third player. I also notice that it is pretty difficult to win this game without cooperating with others. The strategy is figuring out when to cooperate and when to refuse to cooperate.
This game offers a lot of possible ways to win/strategies to employ. I consider this to be a plus. I can leverage ports. I can focus on acquiring Development Cards instead of building a visible empire in the form of cities and settlements. I can focus on earning achievements that can help me toward victory (longest road or largest army). Or if I want, I can blend a variety of these strategies.
The game isn’t easy to learn from reading the rules—if we translate “easy” as taking 5 minutes to learn (aka Apples to Apples). I don’t take this as a negative because the game offers a rich playing experience. I think the complexity of the rules often equates to the richness of the game play. Simple, short games should have simple rules. Games that offer more possibilities and strategies may require more complex rules and explanations of game play. However, I do think I should be able to master the basics with one or two game play experiences. If I need more than that, I’m going to lose interest.
I like the way the game accommodates different skill levels. You can adjust the board’s layout to make it easier or harder to play.
The game incorporates chances to even out the odds and allows players to trip each other up. It does so via a nonplaying character – the Robber – who can mitigate the power of any one player or to help a player who is losing shift his/her fortunes.
The Robber works best when there’s four or more players. It doesn’t work as well with only two players. Many players have figured out how to adjust the rules for the Robber to offset this, which is interesting to me.
The game communicates the odds of any dice role as part of the playing board, which is interesting. I can factor those odds into my decisions on where to place my settlements and cities. This gives an element of strategy to something typically thought of as only chance. Again, a very interesting and useful game design technique that I might want to use myself.
If I needed to create a learning game where chance and strategy combine to produce a result, what ideas could I glean from Settlers? There are a lot of work situations where chance and strategy combine. Any product launch has elements of chance as well as strategy. There are a lot of things we don’t get to control as we design, develop, and launch a product. How could I make sure the game is MOSTLY strategy but includes the chance elements that reflect reality?
Now, here’s five other games for you to play and evaluate. I’ve given you one or two things I’ve noted, but you can come up with plenty more on your own.
Machinarium (iPad and desktop). This is an old-style adventure game. Pay attention to the complete lack of rewards and achievements in this game. Why aren’t there any? Does it need them? (No, the task is the reward. It’s interesting to solve the challenges. The reward is the satisfaction from solving the challenges.) Other things to evaluate:
The contrast between game play on the desktop and the iPad.
Rise of the Blob (Facebook, Android, iPad). This is a horrible game that is the complete opposite of Machinarium. It’s FULL of rewards and achievements because it makes money from in-app purchases. See what you think about the sheer volume of the awards and achievements and how long the game holds your interest.
The Grading Game. I loved this game design. I thought it was very clever. See what you think about the aesthetics, the game goal, the use of negative, almost mean, feedback (traditionally a no-no in learning games), and the very punitive use of time as a constraint. On the negative side, what do you think of the placement of the “teach” info on grammar rules? Could that be improved? If so, how would you do it?
Mystery Math Mansion (available for iPad). This game is targeted toward grade schoolers. Pay attention to the aesthetics, the reward system, and the strategy choice of selecting numbers versus symbols. It’s also useful to notice how they incorporate levels of play and achievements. Ask yourself whether you think the game goal (releasing fire flies) is appropriate for the game’s target audience. How much repeat play do you think the target audience would do?
Dragonbox. This nifty little game is supposed to teach algebra—even to five-year olds. See what you think. Does it stand alone as a teaching tool or should it be combined with some other form of instruction? Do the aesthetics have broad appeal? How do you feel about the 3-star system for letting users track both completion and achievement? (You can progress if you get at least a single star but 3 stars indicate you’ve solved the problem in as few moves as possible) My opinions? I would use the 3-star system myself; I liked that it allowed for players to progress while also giving evaluative info about how well they performed. I thought the aesthetics were simple but clever. I would NOT have learned algebra with this app alone but it would have been great combined with formal explanations offered by a competent teacher. (I hated algebra, by the way. This game would have really helped.)(source:theknowledgeguru)