Game Development Reference
sorted, life is much easier. When things are in order and we can rely on them
being in order, it lifts some of the cognitive load off doing other tasks. For
example, if money is sorted correctly in a shop's till, it makes the task of giving
a customer change easier. Imagine trying to do grocery shopping in a place
where none of the items was sorted on the shelves.
Games use this sorting desire to motivate players to arrange two or more
items according to their characteristics, such as size, color, species, age, or
name. Sorting can also be employed in activities where performing tasks
in order is necessary to complete a challenge.
For example, in the 2D puzzle game Machinarium , players must make their
way through levels by having their character, a little robot, make machines
work in certain orders to accomplish particular tasks. In one level, the
robot must wire a circuit panel one way to perform the first task and then
rewire it in another to get the second one done. In The Sims , the player
can sort the activities their Sim must do in order to satisfy their most
At a simpler level, games such as Bejewelled use matching with sorting to get
the player to sort through randomly placed colored jewels to sort like ones
Chance devices such as die and the drawing of straws for purposes of sorting,
selecting, and division are common among many cultures, and the practice
is referenced in classical Greek literature as early as the Trojan wars and
beforehand in Egyptian artifacts.
Using chance in decision making is referred to as risk. Research has shown
that the types of risks people take today stem back to situations encountered
by our ancestors, including competition with other individuals, competition
with other cultures, mating, resource allocation, and environment. For
example, chasing a bear away from one's food could pose certain risk,
as would going to war with another tribe.
Chance in games is used to determine the probability to future outcomes.
This is one of the oldest actions used in games involving the use of dice:
rolling or coin tossing to determine an outcome based on chance. Without
some element of probability in which players knew what the outcome of their
actions would be before they did them, there would not be any need to take
a risk. Research has shown the greater the risk, the higher the neurochemical
The most obvious and earliest use of probability in adventure games came
when the board game of Dungeons and Dragons was computerized. The board
game involves the rolling of dice to determine the character's ability levels,
for example, how strong they are or how likely they are to shake off a magical
spell. Probability also comes into play when characters face off against each