What is Gameflow?

What is gameflow?

  • Gameflow is about creating difficulty situations for the player that are rewarded when completed.
  • Gameflow gives the player motive for playing.

Videogames are often conceived as a series of puzzles (Newman 2004: 24-25) that use rewards to motivate completion (Bleszinski 2001b; Wilitis 2001). Bleszinski (2001b) describes this process as ‘game flow’

Bleszinski argues that good flow depends on two factors.
The first is that although the puzzle must offer a challenge it should not severely halt progress. Puzzles that can only be solved in one way are likely to frustrate and inhibit flow (Douglas and Hargadon 2000, Maloney in Newman 2004: 24).
The second is through offering appropriate rewards for solving puzzles.

Bleszinski fails to define the concept of reward, but Ryan (1999b), who shares Bleszinski’s underlying ideas, defines rewards as ‘gimmies’, which consist of “power-ups, booty and other loot”. This definition, however, ignores that in many games, a reward for completing a puzzle can be something as taken-for-granted as access to the next stage or area that simply presents a new puzzle. Continually using ‘gimmies’ as rewards is problematic, for as Loftus & Loftus (1983: 17) note, continual reward, reduces the appeal of the reward. Therefore, ‘gimmies’ are best reserved for puzzles that require a level of cognitive effort that is beyond what is usually required of the player

See also:

  • Mechanisms for creating good gameflow
    • theorytag_challenge.gif theorytag_pacing.gif

Bleszinski, C. (2001b) ‘The Art and Science of Level Design’ In: Gamasutra.
Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010110/cliff_01.htm [accessed: June 2006]

Loftus, E. and Loftus, G. (1983) Mind at Play. New York: Basic Books

Newman, J. (2002). “The myth of the ergodic videogame: Some thoughts on player-character relationships in videogames.” in Game Studies, 2(1) [Updated July 2002]
Available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0102/newman/ [Accessed May 2006]

Ryan, T. (1999b) ‘Beginning Level Design Part 2:Rules to Design By and Parting Advice’ In: Gamasutra.
Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/19990423/level_design_01.htm [Accessed: June 2006]

Wilitis, T. (1999) ‘Tim Willits, id Software’ In: Saltzman, M (ed) Secrets of the Sages: Level Design – Gamasutra.
Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/19990723/levdesign_chapter_02.htm [accessed: June 2006]

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