Flow

Looking at Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow provided me with an opportunity to analyse and digest some of my favorite games again in a new way. When reflecting on past experiences playing games and thinking about how easy/frustrating certain parts were it’s interesting to see whether that game had a good sense if flow.

The game that comes to mind the most for me is Terraria, although it is primarily a sandbox style game it does a fantastic job easing the player into harder and harder challenges when they are ready.

Terraria’s two methods of maintaining flow are depth and crafting. The game focuses around navigating a two dimensional world where you dig and mine for valuable resources while also fighting numerous enemies and bosses. The player is free to move around explore wherever they want to but it becomes extremely difficult to dig past a certain depth without a pickaxe of high enough tier. The harder enemies are located lower and lower into the ground but so are the more valuable resources so you must maintain your balance and flow in order to push yourself and advance.

The other main method of keeping flow is the crafting system. Many crafting recipes for better armor and equipment can only be crafted using loot squirted from beating an easier boss monster. This ensures that players are not able to skill ahead too far and make the game easy and also so they must face the difficult challenges with limited armor and equipment. This keeps the players in a contained yet free state when they control their experience but are kept in a state of balance and flow.

I had sat down and played hours and hours if this game straight and I believe it is because the game keeps you in a very constant state of flow where the next goal always seems like a challenge but attainable with effort.

Journal # 3 – We can Work From Home

The ability to work from home has often been reserved for a specific few career paths even though it has a plethora of advantages such as “be your own boss”, “never have to wear pants”, and “more time with the family”. One line of work that seems to be the polar opposite of that however is factory line work. What if all of that could change?

With the introduction of VR and its improvements in accuracy I propose that that factory line workers could perform their duties remotely using a VR set up in their home. This could come with a plethora of new opportunity’s and advantages.

Work could be more closely monitored and accuracy could be improved. When things go wrong it would be very easy to tell why and learn how to fix it to make it safer. Workers would be using VR to control a set of robotic arms so they would experience less fatigue and risk of injury. Workers could even receive live up to date critical information through a HUD system.

This would be a revolutionary change to the performance of a factory while also benefiting the work force.

Journal #2 – Interactive Media

Video games as a form of interactive media have provided me with numerous instances of enjoyment and enjoyment. Recently the moment that I have felt the most engaged in interactive media was playing Ratchet and clank for the PS4. As a kid I played the original ratchet and clank games at my friend’s house after school so being able to have a copy of the game myself was already getting me excited but when  I first started to play it blew me away. Setting aside the amazing beautiful graphics and art style the game felt amazing, it is the closest feeling I have ever had to “playing” a movie. To explain further the game is structured and designed so that it feels as if you are controlling the events of an animated movie. The way you move the way the camera follows you, the attention to detail in the scenery and how to world shapes itself around the player and the players actions.

The games atmosphere dose an amazing job of shaping your experience so that the adventure you go on feel like your own. The story they are actually telling could be criticized for being predictable and somewhat childish but it doesn’t seem to matter, after only a short time playing I was completely immersed. The game encouraged me to adopt a playful mindset and to enjoy the experience as it unfolded and it was easy to do so.

In conclusion the design of Ratchet and Clank for the PS4 was captivating and engaging in every way. Allowing me to have an amazing experience playing their game.

Journal #1 – Controller

My parents had banned home consoles from our house, handhelds were fine but the idea of a big box plugged into the TV eagerly awaiting their children every day to sit down and drain their youthful energy into was not something they wanted. But when the Wii came along I was able to convince them otherwise, because the Wii was different and even though they knew next to nothing about the world of video games they like many others understood that the Wii had done something new and different.

The Wii had introduced a new controller to the very unoriginal world of grid like buttons and joysticks. The new Wii controller was a remote like wand that had motion sensors, gyro sensors to detect the angle that you held the remote and an even magic like ability to serve where you were pointing it (using a sensor bar at the TV) it even came with and extension nunchuck to add versatility. These changes in design revolutionized the titles we would see come out for the Wii across its lifespan. These designs encouraged motion and action in all actuality, and this helped launch the Wii into the realm of a “party system”. The Wii made it fun for literally the whole family to play and even just watch someone Wave their arms around furiously trying to pop a balloon or launch Mario through space.

The changes that Nintendo brought forward with the Wii were not loved by everyone. The new set of affordances: tilting, shaking, waving, etc. Made some gamers who came from the precision world of tight joysticks and uniform buttons angry. Especially games like First person shooters were near impossible to play at the same level of accuracy as before. The first game I actually owned for the Wii was COD4 Modern warfare and it was a challenge to play but eventually I learned how to tuck the controller close to my body and breath very calmly in order to run and gun with the best skill. In this sense the controller that brought video games to my home was only one if my biggest hurdle to overcome. The design if the controller revolutionized video games but was also a huge hindrance to existing styles of play