Lab 1.2: Variety and Tension
Variety in a game refers to how different one game is from the next. Some games have a lot of variety, like Fallout or Dragon Age: Origins, with each playthrough having the potential to be very different than previous games. Some games, like Call of Duty or Texas hold 'em, have very little variety and each play of the game is very much like any other. Variety is often called "replayability" by reviewers and game fans.
Tension in a game refers to how much suspense it generates in its players. To lift from the Wikipedia article on the subject:
Suspense is a feeling of pleasurable fascination and excitement mixed with apprehension, tension, and anxiety developed from an unpredictable, mysterious, and rousing source of entertainment.
Games like Tomb Raider (2013) or spoons have a lot of tension. Some games have very little tension, like Monopoly or Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel (or Super Bowl XLVIII).
Play one of the games provided in class and then create an artifact that answers the questions below. Be sure to support your answers with evidence. If you miss the class day, you'll need to play one of the games offered in class (ask for the list, as it's subject to change) or get a tabletop game approved by your instructor.
- What game did you play? How would you describe it to someone who's never heard of it? What did you think of it?
- How does the game fit our formal definition of a game?
- What things did you encounter in the game? What are the different categories into which these things fit, and what are they? Are there enough things to discover, enough conceptual space to explore? How might the variety be increased?
- What made the game tense? About what percentage through the game did you know for certain who would win? What tipped you off on the result of the game?
- What's more important to the fun of a game, variety or tension? Why should people believe your pick?