Besides amazing graphics and incredible gameplay, the reason why games such as God of War, Need for Speed, or Counter Strike are so popular is in the skills they teach us. All great games make you feel better in real life, which is why players continue to return even years after release. But how exactly do you design real-life skills in the game?
Well, it all starts with a good game idea and its applications in our daily lives. A good example of such an idea is Forager, a game that teaches us about grinding, but in a good way. If you look at the big picture, we’re all grinders in real life (at work and in our personal lives), so a game that teaches you how to have fun while doing repetitive tasks is definitely interesting.
Now, let’s have a look at how games use real-life skills and how to make sure you integrate them into your own designs.
Video games are first and foremost a method of entertainment. However, they can also be educational and focused on developing the players’ set of skills. In fact, some games are used in schools to diversify the way kids learn various subjects.
The old way of teaching has students memorize all sorts of information, which is a tedious task that no one (regardless of age) enjoys. But well-designed games can change this by using creativity, colors, and gameplay to improve focus and memory.
For instance, Hidden Object games fantastic at keeping players focused while they try to remember the things they are looking for. But, for the game to be interesting, you need to use ingenious storytelling and high-quality graphics.
When the player’s main quest is to find a lost treasure or discover a long-hidden mystery, it’s a lot more fun to work on your focus and memory. But if the game is just about looking for and finding hidden objects, players will get bored and they won’t be working on their skills.
A study from the University of Toronto found that action-based video games are useful in developing and improving sensorimotor skills. This means hand-eye coordination, which leads to players being less clumsy in real-life.
Now, in order to design a game that will actually be helpful for these skills, you must find ways to trick the brain into thinking this is a real activity. There are also studies that prove simulated environments (VR or flight simulators, for instance) activate the same neural networks real-life activities would. So, if the game is designed to make it look like the real deal, it will help players get better in real life.
As inspiration sources, you can use any popular FPS game (Counter Strike, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and so on). Even more, these games also develop a player’s level of awareness, as they learn how to keep their senses engaged.
Activities like driving enlist all our senses in order to maneuver through a situation with so many variables that could change in an instant. This leads to a better spirit of observation which can be applied in everyday life situations.
However, we’re not all drivers, which is why games like Need for Speed or Grand Theft Auto are so popular. But it’s not just racing games that keep players on their toes! A game as simple as Lucky Life can be surprisingly efficient because it creates unexpected situations that prevent the brain from switching to automatic override (what happens when you’re bored or doing repetitive tasks).
So, in order to create a great video game that will keep players interested and coming back, you must find ways to include real-life skills in your design. Even more, if you manage to get a creative approach, your game may be a huge success!
A talented writer who has dedicated 6+ years of her life to the browser videogame industry. VR obsessed and captured by an AI future.