Regarding game analysis, scholars usually focus on how players interpret and play the game. This article, however, focused on the opposite way. The authors studied the designers’ intention to design “deceptive games” examining how players react when they realize that game artifacts and functions diverge from conventions.
The article aimed to present the term “deceptive game” as designers’ intention to mislead players’ inference in gameplay. Players usually have their perception of how to play with game artifacts from their experiences and common practices in the game world. Designers, nevertheless, could adapt the function of the artifact to deliberate transgressive design. They proposed two terms – “ludic unreliability” and “implied designers”- to understand the deceptive game component. The result claims that implied designers choose this approach to mislead players to increase the emotional effects intentionally. Those effects confuse and surprise players, and they question the designers’ intention and gameplay, which are in players’ interest. Additionally, ludic unreliability, specifically overtly deceptive games, invites players to critical the game elements in relationship development, especially how they infer and interpret designers’ intentions.
The effect from implied designers happened since games can be perceived as “international-communicative artifacts“. It invites players to infer meanings of the game elements presented by designers. As Nguyen stated, “games and video games are designed to communicate the developers’ intention to their users in a variety of ways”, players usually infer the meanings that games would communicate and how elements would represent derived from the gameplay experience. It means that players realize how elements function intuitively. Misleading with elements in the game by players was the focus to examine.
In addition, ludic unreliability focuses on the players’ experience in the gameplay after they infer and realize implied intentions from designers. The term occurs when games do not function as they usually work. Pols Voice, for instance, is an enemy which can be defeated by “loud noise” in The Legends of Zelda. The program intended to let players make noise to a controller to kill the enemy; however, some players who used the NES controller did not conquer since they used a flute-like element instead of making their own noise to the game. This example calls unintentional ludic unreliability based on confusing information. On the other hand, intentional ludic unreliability – was the approach of this research since designers “intend” to design certain situations. Designers, for example, are designed to put players in surprising and convincing situations to make players feel more challenged.
Deceptive game design consists of two terms together – implied designers and intentional ludic unreliability – as stated in the text, “We consider a design decision deceptive when it is meant to deliberately mislead the player concerning the meanings or functions of some elements of the game by projecting spacious designer’s intentions.” Overt and Covert deceptive designs are presented as two types of games due to the purpose of deceitful. Overt deceptions are designed to mislead players’ inferences and transform their relationships with the game by presenting evidence in the gameplay. In contrast, covert deceptions cover the misleading, which affects players at the end or late gameplay. Overt deceptions challenge the conventions meant to create particular emotional effects on players to re-evaluate their understanding of the game. EXP, for instance, is understood with the meaning of “EXperience Point”; Undertale, however, uses the abbreviation “EXecution Point”. Therefore, overt deceptions make players likely to question and become hesitant about how game mechanics are fair, consistent, and rewarding.
Picture: Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Research: Ludic Unreliability and Deceptive Game Design
Stefano Gualeni, Nele Van de Mosselaer (2021)
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