After playing (too much) computer games, I am beginning to realize what type of games do I like. Generally, I like playing with games what challenges me without being too helpless, with stories that bond me with the characters in the plot and an interface that allows me to do what I want without too many steps.
Having watch a video on storytelling, I realize that any game, presentation or even lesson, has to have three component. Firstly, as Doug Stevenson puts it, the emotions of the player, audience or students must be engaged. The story must activate their imagination. Masterful games like Ultima IV triggers our wonderings without breath taking graphics because of the stories of the characters inside. Characters such as Lord Britannia, Iolo the Bard and Dupre the Paladin engages us with the stories they tell and when they die on the screen, we mourn with them… The story must flow from one chapter to another. In a presentation, we are not just telling them the facts and figures, it is about telling them a story about them or about us and how it affects their future. We connect them to what we telling them emotionally.
Secondly, content follow connection. The system of the game, content of the presentation or facts of the lesson must be pitched correctly to the audience. A game cannot be too hard yet remain challenging. A presentation must be targeted at the audience to make sense to them. Lessons must be taught at the level of the students so that they learn. Variety is the spice of life. Not just that, variety brings interests to the story. I don’t always remember the details of a story, but I will always remember a plot twist. In a game, presentation or lesson, flexibility is also the key. The player must be allowed to be creative with the ways to solve the game. Likewise, a presenter must be flexible to use the local context and situation to bring the idea across. Finally a teacher must be flexible sufficiently to engage the students’ questions and weave them into the lesson.
Finally, form matters. As a hygienic factor, form should not get into the way of the emotion bonding nor the fascinating. Ask any gamers about why they give up some games after a few tries. Some may tell you it’s too boring or too hard or easy. Some will tell you that some games concepts are great and the story is fantastic, but the controls are simply too hard too follow. To complete certain actions, if the player has to go through a seven step process, they will soon ask for a shortcut. Similarly, in a presentation, once you have your audience jumping through mental loops too many times in order to understand your concepts, you have lost them. Finally, as all teachers know, put the workings of a problem clearly so that your students can understand the steps and so that, during an exam, they will get full marks for it too…