13: Longevity

13: Longevity

How many times do you expect players to play or experience your designs? How does this consideration influence the designs themselves?

 

 

I hope that my games are played frequently and stay for decades in homes. This influences how I design as I use theme that have lasted for generations and would be understood by future generations as well. Themes like folklore or simple traditional stories in Nigeria.

Kenechukwu Ogbuagu KC

While I understand that many people only play a game one or two times, I always design as though it will be a family favourite, pulled out from time to time. I think that a game should become more comfortable with repeat plays – there is something lovely about just playing a game without having to learn or relearn. So perhaps I would say that I try to create games that are interesting and engaging rather than flashy or gimmicky.

Roberta Taylor

I’d be happy with once or twice for playing and experiencing. There’s a lot of new games all the time that people flock to and no matter how game your great is, there’s a large chance it’ll be left behind. Granted, we do have a huge selection of gateway games that people play all the time, but that number pales in comparison. I just try to make the most fun game I can (and that will have a chance of success) and hope players will find it fun as well.

Christopher Chung

1-4. It used to be many more, and I always hope for more. This dictates a shallow learning curve so players can jump right into thoughtful play and feel clever faster. This also informs designing games with adaptable user interfaces for varying skill levels.

Adrienne Ezell

The tragic fact of today’s gaming landscape is that many players don’t replay games very much. The legacy format tries to combat this by giving players an overt reason to return to the game. I don’t make Legacy games, but I do value replayability. When I play games, I like to play them a lot in an attempt at mastery. I want my designs to hold up to repeat plays as well, even if many players won’t bother.

Seth Jaffee

I use theme that have lasted for generations and would be understood by future generations as well. — Kenechukwu Ogbuagu KC

I don’t have any expectations on the number of times players will play our games. I hope they enjoy playing our games every time they sit down to play, but I don’t put any quantifier on it. Games are meant to be enjoyed for the experience, I think, regardless of the quantity. So this doesn’t have much impact on our game design process. I will say we tend to design shorter games as a consideration to people’s limited time to play games. This means our games may be more likely to hit the table, but I don’t expect it.

Sarah Reed

The industry’s demand for a new hot game seemingly every week has certainly influenced what I make – you need to capture the attention of the audience from the very beginning. Heck, even before the beginning, you need to get folks excited about what you’re making, or no-one will notice it when it’s released. I try to mix a compelling theme and interesting mechanisms with the team’s knack for beautiful presentation. At least that way we stand a chance to stand out in the crowd. I still make the stuff I want to play though, that’s easily as important.

Michael Fox

It depends on the game! I think with a few of my larps, I like to have players experience it once all the way through, but keep an artefact so they can refer to it later. These can be in the form of vlogs (e.g. my solo larp, ‘They’re Onto Me’), or photos or something else. I also like the idea of having temporary art – that players can experience this one thing, this one time. For board games or TTRPGs, this could be different – these can sometimes depend on players learning and growing with the game.

Banana Chan

With so many games around, gamers don’t play the same game again and again as they used to thirty years ago. Despite this, I try to design games that can be fun for as many games as possible. On the other hand, deployability must not against simplicity, and I refuse to make rules more complex if it’s only to make the game feel different every time.

Bruno Faidutti

We tend to design shorter games as a consideration to people’s limited time to play games. This means our games may be more likely to hit the table, but I don’t expect it.
— Sarah Reed

Since I can’t design proper games, I busy myself with ‘experimental’ game design, which means if someone really hates a game I’ve done, I simply reframe the experiment to be ‘design a game that never gets played again’. I’ve also (unsuccessfully) deliberately played with ideas of longevity such as a game that potentially never ends or a game that seamlessly blends with everyday life. Longevity is a good creative prompt.

Andrew Sheerin

Anywhere between 0 and thousands of times. Honestly, everyone is different.

I accept that some folk will buy my things, and never even take the time to play. That’s a sad reality – some folk overspend and end up with ‘piles of potential’. To help folk get something played at least once, I try to make the rules approachable, with plenty of blind-testing.

Conversely, even with a simple game, I aim for there to be new details to notice/experience even after hundreds of games. Modularity, high interaction/creativity potential, and emergent complexity all help here.

Bez Shahriari

I (optimistically) design all my games to be played hundreds of times. It’s how I enjoy games, and it’s the kind of game I want to make. I lean heavily into variable setups, enough content to get you through dozens of games, and interesting player interactions.

Peter Hayward

I almost always design with replayability in mind, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t partially for selfish reasons. If I’m going to be demoing a game over and over again, I don’t want to come out the other side absolutely sick of it. With Battle of the Boy Bands, this meant finding ways to make people laugh as much as possible, and with RPGs this has generally meant providing an array of story hooks that could go in wildly different directions.

Clio Davis

One of the biggest inspirations for me as a designer was to move away from ‘edu-games’ that would be played once (normally with a facilitator and/or teacher) and then forgotten, and instead to move towards games that people would want to play of their own volition and then keep coming back to. Hopefully I have achieved that, and the games I design represent something that players will reach for long after they have first been introduced to it.

Sam Illingworth

I’ve also (unsuccessfully) deliberately played with ideas of longevity such as a game that potentially never ends or a game that seamlessly blends with everyday life. Longevity is a good creative prompt. — Andrew Sheerin

You’ve got one chance to prove why your game deserves to come off the shelf again, let alone stay there! For lighter games, we try to make games as easy-to-access and component light as possible. For heavier games, we try to make the game start off with a bang and leave you with the feeling like you could do better next time. It really boils down to an experience to cost ratio – is the experience this game provides worth its total cost in money, time, and effort you have to spend? Longevity is an elusive quarry in this current market.

Sen-Foong Lim

Currently, the purpose of the games I design is to illustrate a notion, an idea or a process on personal growth themes. They are meant to be played a few times and only in context. It influences my work in the way that I don’t really have to worry about replayability, I can explore ideas of ephemeral gameplay.

Doria Roustan

There is no specific rule or number of times a design needs to be tested. It needs to be tested until the game works well with as many different scenarios / player strategies as you can test. The number of tests increases along with the number of design cycles. The more you iterate, the more tests you will need.

Eloi Pujadas

I don’t have an expectation on how many times players will play my designs, but I do try to design games that make you want to try different strategies or experience different scenarios. I aim for games to be different enough to have at least 10 plays in them, without counting playing to master the game. This could mean having different game setups, variable player powers, hidden objectives, etc. If the game is setup the same every time, then there should be a deck of cards or another source of randomness to make it so there isn’t one ideal strategy.

Carla Kopp

In Edge of Humanity we tried to curate the first 3 plays of the game and then let players go wild. It is a very important issue these days where multiple plays seem to be a thing of the past and only your 1 or 2 favourite games survive to see any number of plays that is larger than 3. With the rise of one time use games like legacy games, escape room in a box and detective games, this issue is even worse because you have to convince your audience the box contains enough value.

Pini Shekhter

It really boils down to an experience to cost ratio – is the experience this game provides worth its total cost in money, time, and effort you have to spend? Longevity is an elusive quarry in this current market. — Sen-Foong Lim

I expect my games to be played many times. I set out to produce games which appeal to a wide audience: people without vast collections of games, who make only infrequent game purchases. The first playthrough is always on my mind, and it is vital that the experience is as enjoyable as possible – to ensure future plays and sales. This may mean sacrificing complexity to maximise enjoyment on a first outing. The trick is to create something very simple to pick up, but with variety in the content (for light games) or emergent strategies (for heavier games) to ensure replayability.

Adam Porter

Iteration of play for my games is highly variable. But in general I do try to ensure for my tabletop games that you get the whole experience, the whole vision in a single session. I do design for playing again with different nuances and feel. On the video game side I basically want you to play forever.

Whitney “Strix” Beltrán

In today’s market this is hard to say how many plays I can expect, but my rule of thumb is that a long game (1 hour+) should be playable 10 times before players begin to feel like they need more. This is because its likely a) only real favourites will see this many plays and b) if someone is playing that much they’re very likely open to expansion content. With this standard in place, I’m looking to achieve this much replayability as the absolute bare minimum in my design, by hook or by crook!

James Naylor

I do a lot of work on children’s games and my greatest hope is that both parents and kids make lots of happy memories playing my games. To me that means a game needs to be quick, not annoying to the parents, everyone playing has to have the chance to win, and most of all, it has to be fun even if you’re losing! So when I design a children’s game, I want it to tick all of those boxes.

Kim Vandenbroucke

I would like to think that players would want to remain interested in the games I design and, in some cases, mark them amongst their absolute favourites; this is, of course, not a unique perspective! After 20 years, there definitely seem to be folks who’s annual lists include ‘whatever Tony is doing’ as one of their positive filtration criteria. A Tony Boydell game is mechanically-familiar but with a twist, has an unusual theme or tangential view of a beloved trope and/or goes the extra mile when it comes to the detail. I try and put ‘me’ in to the design.

Tony Boydell

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