Aspects of Play: Bubble Trouble

As part of the module, the task was to look into various types of games within the 3 specific bands of play. The band this game I shall be discussing ‘Bubble Trouble’ belongs to is Internet Based.

When playing Bubble Trouble, I found that it belonged to the following categories of play in relation to Roger Caillois’ theory of play; Mimicry and Alea.

In terms of Mimicry, you control the player character that attempts to shoot the antagonising bubbles that will cause you to fail, if they hit you. Alea comes in the form of the certain power-ups that drop from bubbles occasionally after being ‘popped’ that allow the player to switch up the type of gameplay with different game altering equipment. Illinx isn’t present within the game because the in-game character only has the motor control to be moved across a 2D plane, and the only altering aspect of the game is when a bubble hits the player character, of which doesn’t disorientate, but instead ends that specific ‘run’. Agon has no presence within the game, being primarily a single-player game with a co-operative aspect, there no ‘challenge’ within the game, other than the personal desire to complete the game, of which isn’t a direct element for it to be designated as Agonistic.

The elements in the game I liked, were primarily the gameplay elements. Like the aforementioned random power-ups that drop after defeating bubbles, they alter the gameplay and play style of the player to the point of which you’ll barely play the same way for every time you play the game, and that improves the chances of replayability and the addiction factor. I also like the fact that you’re playing against the environment in a sense with this game because the bubbles hit the ground, it’s impossible to stay in the same place for the entire game and not be hit by a bubble, which mixes things up and keeps the player focused.

State of Flow, was it achieved?

Yes. In part, primarily because of the focus needed to avoid the bubbles and assure that you’d actually stop it from ‘killing’ you. It may look easy enough, but the further you progress and the bigger the bubbles become (because they subdivide after being hit, until they are small enough to be stopped outright) the increasingly more difficult it becomes to stay alive for long.

If I were designing a game similar to this, I would improve the motivating factor behind the game. When playing a game like this, there’s little in the way of keeping me from saying “I’m done” after a single run. A factor to keep the player hooked after being defeated, instead of the single principle of wanting to defeat the level they just lost to, is more important.

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