Empathy in Game Design

So I was scrolling through twitter and saw that Brian Kibler (Magic the Gathering Hall of Fame member) retweeted this article:

It talks about how the Lead Designer for Magic the Gathering believes that empathy is very core to game design. I like seeing discussion about game design so that I can better understand the ways that flaws and the like can come out in a game despite the passion of the people working on it. But I really enjoyed this article even without its connection to games.

It’s easy to get frustrated at things that happen in a game. Mono-Red can burn you out by turn 4, that shotgun can take you out before you even begin to build for high ground or maybe that enemy burns your stamina too fast for you to be able to react. But I’ve always accepted that it’s just another form of fun for someone, I don’t get upset at the person, just the strategy. But I really loved the way he breaks down and talks about empathy. The conclusion with the Red Enchantment being a way to circumvent the negative feelings a specific player felt without breaking the core tenants of the Magic Color system was really awesome.

I figured a few of you would appreciate this little written piece.

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This is a topic near and dear to my heart and it’s the reason why I started @Headshots. want to explore how people feel when they play. There are some things in games that just don’t feel good and sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine them feeling good for anyone. Like getting hogtied and abducted in Red Dead. But I bet it’s almost universally appealing to see a bunch of colorful engrams explode out of a chest after defeating a boss in Destiny.

The truth is that game designers can’t know for sure without allowing for feedback, listening, and following up. I look forward to helping more companies do this type of research soon.

btw I’ve listened to Mark talk about MtG way more than I have actually played Magic. I like him a lot.

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