How to design immersive game experiences: Mastering norms

How to design immersive game experiences: Mastering norms

Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form.

Educational game design is strongly linked with sociocultural aspects of individual groups. Players have already defined expectations since they have played several games. They have seen movies, theatrical plays, read comic books and have already formed a particular taste on what they like or not. Consequently, audiences have already specific expectations and needs from the games they want to play. Players always long for new experiences, original gameplay that will surprise and amaze them. Understanding the needs of players is a very powerful advantage of educational game designers. This is why norms exist. Norms are attributes among the game elements that tend to offer a particular experience.

Norms that result to immersive learning experiences endure the test of time and thus are for you to identify and take into account when creating your games. Successful games usually consist of such norms while games that create frustration to players usually do not respect them or overuse them.

Norms exist in order to offer a perspective and help you guide yourself through the game design process. Robert McKee in his book Story discusses the use of norms for script writers. During his work, he observes that unique pieces of art, in his case movies, are characterized by both a respect to universal norms but also the freedom of the creator to defy and modify them when necessary.

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