Player Strategies: Achieving Breakthroughs and Progressing in Single-player and Cooperative Games

I Iacovides, Anna Cox, A Avakian, T Knoll
in Proceedings of the first ACM SIGCHI annual symposium on Computer-human interaction in play, Conference paper (text)


Challenge is considered to be one of the key components of game-play, where game designers face the tricky task of getting the balance right so that game-play is neither too easy nor too difficult. Through attempting in-game challenges, players experience cycles of breakdown and breakthrough, where breakthroughs involve moments of insight in which learning occurs. However, little attention has been given to how players actually overcome challenges to progress during game-play. Across two studies, we explore the ways in which players attempt to achieve breakthroughs in relation to single-player and co-located multiplayer games. We identified a number of strategies that are used by players, which illustrate how learning occurs during play. For instance, while "Experiment" involves forming an informal hypothesis, "Trial & error" occurs when the player tries to find out what, if anything, will happen when they carry out an action. These strategies are considered in relation to supporting player progress and engaging game-play when designing commercial and educational games.