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How to Design Addictive Games [EE380 Computer Systems]

How to Design Addictive Games
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 4:30pm
Gates B03
Charles Clanton (Sculptor, Software User Experience Designer)
Abstract / Description: 

A great game seduces its player into flow state. Since we know a lot about what flow state is and what it requires, you might imagine that game's design to be a lot of work, but not mysterious. Yet 99% of all games fail. The vast majority of game designers have never designed an addictive game. In HCI research, games are analyzed based on flow state properties but that's descriptive, not prescriptive. Designing such games remains mystical. Like other performing arts, game design needs accident, luck, inspiration, perspiration, and knowledge. I would like to justify my being invited to talk so on top of the skeleton of flow, I will add some meat that you would not likely hear from anyone else. I will talk about what I learned playtesting my own work and what I was taught by great game designers, in creating games that were indeed addictive. As such, this will be a very idiosyncratic and personal introduction to the art of designing irresistible engagement.


Chuck Clanton is a software user experience designer, who likes working on new problems. He invented touch screen interactions on the star7 at FirstPerson in 1991-2, avatar-centric communication in virtual worlds in 2000-2004 (which won a technical Emmy award), and very effective "adver-gaming" on floor and wall displays using 3d gestures in space in 2004-8 (prior to Microsoft's Kinect). Around 1995, he decided that he needed to know the secrets of game designers. He went to Electronic Arts UK Studio outside London where he user tested every game from the studio. He eventually worked on the design of four platinum games: Populous the Beginning, Sim Theme Park, Dungeonkeeper II, and the first Harry Potter for advanced consoles. He was named EA''s first Design Fellow. In this talk, he will share what he learned himself and was taught by some of the industry's greatest game designers on how to create addictive games.