GLS 2008 presentation: Increasing Player Engagement Without Breaking Your Budget: Simple Choices That Make a Big Difference.
Questions the authors, who are game designers, asked:
- What makes a game engaging?
- Why do people spend time playing games?
- As a designer, what choices will make my game more attractive?
- As instructor, how can I make my instructional games more effective?
To answer the question the authors created a very simply “game” — as quickly as you can click on a circle when it appears. They demo’d various versions of the game — each with additional features to increase engagement.
- Provide simple, ongoing feedback, e.g. half bonus, full bonus if click quickly enough
- Add a narrative
- Allow for some strategy
- Add sounds
- Add colours
With pre- and post-tests on the four different versions of the game, the authors concluded:
- Different enhancements did not change level of motivation.
- Women liked the media version the most (they played longer, had higher perceived quality and time compression on this version), men liked the feedback version most. Thus, gender matters.
- Pre-game interest and expectation play a key role: If people were interested in playing the game, they appreciated the extra features. For those who were not interested, extra features did not impress.
This is an interesting pilot project, still a work-in-progress. The way they’re measuring engagement is interesting.
They’re going to be adding another two features in the area of Narrative: a bit of a storyline and characters. They’re also challenging anyone to take the core version’s source code and add features to make it more engaging, which will be tested. Rules: no porn, but violence is allowed.