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Games as Experiencing


Disciplines > Game Design > Games as Experiencing

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There are many distinct experiences in life and sometimes games can be seen more as escape, yet the experiential aspects of games can be a very deliberate part of the design and can contribute significantly to make the game more enjoyable.

This may be done in two ways. First, the overall general experience of playing the game may be considered, for example the concentration of thoughtful games like chess, the visceral aspects of physical games, the visual quality of board games or the atmosphere of a role-playing game.

Individual experiences may also be designed, for example where role-players enter an unexplored room or where fighters engage in a battle. A full design of experience considers all aspects, from thinking of playing through to after-game situations.


An urban street treasure-hunting game is designed both for the overall experience of running around a city and individual 'adventures' in finding clues in distinctly different contexts, such as abandoned buildings and churches.

A football team manager considers the whole experience of the players, from joining to coaching to changing-room build-up to the actual impact of the game and post-game let down.


Meaning, which is central to our lives, comes from experiencing. From the interpretation and learning that we get out of games we both improve our game-play and also find better ways of living in the 'real' world.

Experiences are not 'events' or what happens, they are how people feel about such times. A strong experience is likely to have peak emotions with perhaps a complex set of feelings along the way. We remember good experiences because the emotions we feel at the time help fix the experiences in our memories such that when we recall that period we experience again the emotions we felt then.

It has been found that varying experiences is a often a better way of generating happiness than acquiring material goods. It is hence better to spend your money on experiences, including games, than buying more 'stuff'.

See also

Varying Experiences, Meaning, Games as Discovery


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