What is Irresistibility?
  • Irresistibly involves making an optional game objective highly irresistible that the player actively seeks it out even though the game does not force them to.
  • This allows the player to have a greater feeling of control, as they know that every decision they have made is of his/her own choice and has not been demanded by the game designer.
  • At the same time, it ensures the designer is not wasting time designing optional assets that only few players will see.
  • As, even though the assets are optional, most players will actively seek them out.

The summer 2006 editions of EuroGamer presented an interesting design debate. Including optional content (content that players will only see if they make particular choices) has often been seen as a way of increasing player freedom and ensuring that they do not blindly follow the designer's ‘script’. For example, an NPC may set a challenge. If the player completes it, s/he will be access a particular secret area. If s/he fails, then s/he will remain on the main level route and cannot access the secret area.

In an interview with EuroGamer, Robin Walker and Gabe Newell the developers of Valve`s Half-Life series, argue against creating optional assets. They feel that creating assets that not all players will see is a waste of time. This time could be better spent ensuring that all players are able to access the most enjoyable and interesting sections of the game allowing them to have the same enjoyment.

In another EuroGamer interview, Warren Spector, the developer behind Iron Storm`s Deus Ex , took issue with Walker and Newell`s arguments. He claims that choice is a defining factor of videogames and without it, a game is merely an adrenalin-rush inducing roller coaster ride.

This produces a problem - optional assets enhance choice and realise the true but potential of video games, but at the same time they cause the developer to spend time creating material that not all players will see.

Irresistibility is the solution to this problem. By making optional assets irresistible, the player will play a game multiple times to find the assets. The secret areas in Mario Bros. 3 have a high irresistibility as they offer spaces that are unique and different from the main game. Even though the game was first released in 1988, it is not uncommon to still see players trying to reach every secret area.

Euro Gamer (2006) ‘Opening the Valve: Interview PC Part 2: On Warren Spector, Alyx, and the importance of playtesting.’ In Eurogamer [Updated 8th of June 2006] http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=65391 [Accessed 1 July 2006]

Euro Gamer (2006) ‘Warren Spector on game development Interview Part 1: On 'less enjoyable paths' and reaching a wider audience.’ In Eurogamer [Updated 28th of June 2006] http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=65751 [Accessed 1 July 2006]

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