Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Beautiful Dilemma

One of the main goals of game design is to present the players with dilemmas. Without them, player decisions--if there are any--will seem too obvious, and the game will lack tension.

I actually consider games without dilemmas to be more like spectator sports. Some people are perfectly content to be spectators in a game. They play Candyland or LCR just because they like to watch how things will turn out. To them, playing a game is just another alternative to watching a football game on TV. They do not have any influence on the outcome, but they are drawn in by the action. And they would rather "veg out" than be burdened by tough decisions.

I, however, am not content to be a spectator when I play games. I need to be drawn in by the interactions with the game system and the other players. A game engages its players by providing interesting decisions, in which there are no obviously correct paths to take.

"You can't always get what you want..." - Mick Jagger

The best game experience I can have is when its mechanics present me with several good options every turn. And then it hits me with a beautiful dilemma:

Each turn, I can always do something good, but I cannot do everything that I want to now.