Aspects of Play: Game Dev Tycoon

As part of the module, the task for the duration of 3 weeks, was to look into the various types of games within the 3 specific bands of play. The band this game I shall be discussing ‘Game Dev Tycoon’ belongs to is the Console.

When playing Game Dev Tycoon, I found that it best suited being assigned to the following categories of play, according to Roger Caillois’ theory of play; Alea

In terms of Alea, the game is essentially a simulator in which you run a video game development company and you try to make money and sell your games. You don’t actually make the games within the game, you only create the formula in which they are made. The better the formula, the better the game (of which is only true at the start of the game), hence the Alea aspect seeing as it’s randomized on how successful you’ll actually be dependant on several factors. Agon isn’t present within the game because it’s simply a single-player simulator, although a social aspect could creep into it if friends wanted to compare success in the game to one another, promoting a competitive aspect, though I did not encounter that myself. Illinx doesn’t occur whatsoever in the game because they’re is no Mimicry and thus you don’t control a player character, your character that is designated as the players ‘avatar’ is present on screen but you aren’t permitted any motor control over it and thus neither does any disorientation occur.

In terms of the elements within the game that I enjoy, I really liked the scope of the game reflecting the real world equivalent (dramatised in some aspects) of the life of a game developer. From spending all the time perfecting a formula, to seeing that resulting game do poorly at the critics and you end up bankrupt. It’s eye-opening to say the least.

State of Flow, was it achieved?

Yes. Oddly I rarely enter flow with games that aren’t necessarily focus engaging and are little more than button press simulators, but with this I saw myself being heavily engrossed within the process of perfecting the formula and being immersed within the games world, that I entered flow.

If I were designing a game similar to this, I would have more of an indication for the player on how to be successful with the formulas. Maybe that in itself is an indication of its real world parody of being a ‘in the life of a developer’ in which there’s no clear path to success, but I would include it as it is deimmersing at times, constantly getting formulas wrong with little indication as to the right course of action.


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