Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Conflict and motivation
One thing that may be apparent - assuming you have read the previous
chapters - is that it is very difficult to separate out the many aspects of
writing for video games. If the whole is to be greater than the sum of its parts
these aspects will overlap and interweave with one another in a rich and
diverse manner. For instance, the player's choices have an impact on the story,
which can affect the characters and in turn affect the gameplay and modify
further player actions. This is a good thing, because if you were able to
separate each of these things from one another completely it is unlikely that
you would be able to treat game writing with the cohesion it needs. Conflict
and motivation have already been touched on in earlier chapters, but here we
will look a little more closely.
Gameplay is all about conflict. Without the conflict inherent in games,
there would be no gameplay and no sense of achievement when the player
overcomes his objectives, whether they are posed by playing against another
person or against the game itself. This is not a new phenomenon that has
arisen since the advent of video games, but one that has been around since
the invention of games in any form. In games like chess and backgammon,
which have been around for hundreds of years, the conflict is set by your
opponent's moves as they attempt to remain one step ahead of you. In turn,
you must try to resolve that conflict by using your own moves to throw it
back on your opponent so that they are now the one with conflict to resolve.
Balance is very important when defining gameplay conflict. If two chess
players are very mismatched, it is likely that neither will enjoy playing against
the other. For the better player, the game will offer no challenge because it is
too easy to beat their opponent. For the weaker player, the game is too diffi-
cult and because they know that they cannot win it becomes a pointless exer-
cise. Both these players lack the motivation to play a game of chess together.
What the above shows is that, unlike more traditional media, conflict and
motivation in games are not restricted to the events, characters and situations
within the games themselves, but also extend to the players.
Gameplay styles reflect the different conflict and motivational needs of
their players. For many fans of first person shooters, the buzz they get from
working their way through the game's levels, blasting everything in sight can
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