Game Development Reference
for him; the basic design decisions are already made. Trying to create a
new market segment is different. There are no established players. There
are no references to draw from, or conventions to follow. Most importantly,
it is impossible to know how many people will be interested in a radically
The Sims is a wonderful example of design craft, but craft alone did not
guarantee its massive success. For every The Sims , there have been many
other equally well-crafted games that never found an audience. Because
that kind of success takes more than craft. It also takes a willingness to
make big bets, and it requires a lot of luck.
The idea of market segments makes it sound like we can split the market
into perfectly separate chunks, each with a little label on it. Obviously real
life is not so clean. Market segments overlap in complex ways, and one
game can appeal to many different market segments.
Let's look at a more precise way of thinking about how different games
appeal to different people. It starts by breaking down everything a game
offers into a set of market values .
A MARKET VALUE in game design is an aspect of a game experience that
appeals to some group of people in a specific way.
For example, there are people who play The Sims just to build houses.
They're not interested in controlling a simulated family. They just want to
experiment with different room shapes, wallpapers, and furnishings. The
Sims appeals to these people because it offers a market value that I'll call
creative home building.
But The Sims also appeals to people who have no interest in building
houses. Consider another player who wants to role-play a version of him-
self. He makes his character and proceeds to explore a dramatic alternate
life full of drama, love, and tragedy in one of the premade houses that
comes with the game. This player is responding to a different kind of value
I'll call life role-play .
The Sims offers creative home building , life role-play , and many other
kinds of market value in one package. It doesn't just appeal to one set of
people with a single interest. It appeals to anyone who wants any of its
market values. And almost all players are interested in multiple values
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