Psychology of gamers

Game guru Sid Meier explains gamer psychology | VentureBeat. (via Stephen Downes)

Sid Meier is the maker of Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Pirates! and other such games. He notes that people don’t want to play games that are too hard, and for many things, if you make them more realistic, they become harder …

… you have to always tilt the odds in favor of the player winning, regardless of the true mathematical odds for things such as battles. If you don’t do this, players will perceive your game as too difficult and will drop it … I thought the more realistic you made a game, the more historically accurate, [the more] the player would appreciate it. In reality, I was wrong …

One example he gives of the “realism problem” is flight simulators. At first, they were simple and fun. But as they became more realistic, the controls became more complex. Fewer and fewer people could master them. And ultimately, the games became so inaccessible that the genre died out.

So although people will learn about history (or railroad tycoonery or pirating), they will get a distorted view of the level of difficulty involved in ruling the world (or the railroads or the high seas).

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