The Cargo Cult of Game Mechanics

Steven Wittens, Hackery, CC BY, Oct 14, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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Really interesting article and really interesting presentation. The thesis is essentially this: game design today has devolved into moneymaking systems that depend on "whales", that is, a small number of compulsive users who will pay to keep playing the game. This is "gaming as serious media." "It generally involves taking away choice, using scripts instead of simulations, with mini-games and quick-time events thrown in to amuse your hindbrain. It's tacitly saying that real storytelling, real human comedy or tragedy, can't happen while a player is in control. It's non-sense of course, plenty of games have done so before." The analogy with serious games in learning is clear, and I think the case is well made. See also this deconstruction of Chrono Trigger.

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