Notice the subtle change in the title? As I had added a timer to the white state, in this iteration I add a timer to the black state, effectively creating a loop that doesn’t require human input.

Press when Black - timed loop

Press when Black - timed loop

The title of the two previous iterations, “Press to win”, doesn’t quite apply here anymore, since the previous initial state, black, no longer waits for player input. The new rule creates a window of opportunity for successful interaction (since white doesn’t accept any input). Of course, the title is also part of the experience and since it also looks like a little like an instruction, I believe I can safely say that this system has much more ludicity than the previous two. An improvised test session tended to show that people end up trying to press the button as fas as possible when black appears, which is a good testament to the improved ludicity of this prototype.

So, I’ve added just one rule and all of the sudden the dull, simple interactive system of the two previous examples became a simple and dull game-like interactive system. What do you think just happened?

My hypothesis is that the time loop allows something not to happen, thus sparking different nodes in the user’s mind than those used when using any non-game software. When something doesn’t happen in a regular piece of software, you get frustrated and blame the developer, but when something doesn’t happen in a game-y piece of software, you tend to blame yourself. And so you try again, and again, until you reach your patience’s limit and then blame the developer.

Could we perhaps think from this that games are systems that accept, integrate and exploit failure? I think we could…

EDIT: I forgot adding a link to the prototype (swf), silly me.

One thought on “1pxg: Press when Black – Timed loop

  1. Failure certainly is an important part of games. Uncerainty of the outcome is always cited as a requisite for good gameplay, and most often, that implies failure. Also, if you look at games as a closed environment in which you get to train for the hardships of real life (a definition true for animals, but maybe insufficent for human play), it appears that failure is the main focus of it all – you learn to avoid it in the security of the magic circle in order to do better in the wilderness.

    I think with that new rule, you also introduce something quite interesting – it’s the first rule allowing for an effect not caused by the payer to take place. If the player does nothing, the “game” appears to adopt a behaviour of its own. I think that creates a form of conflict, which maybe helps to game-ify the system. You’ve sort of created an AI!

Do, or do not. There is no try.