23: Interaction

23: Interaction

What is your favourite type of interaction in games? How do you design your games to ensure that interaction?

 

 

For about ten years now, the trend has been to publish games with less and less interaction, leading to these strange boardgames in which every player plays on their own little board (Nagaraja is an exception, it has strong interaction). This makes me sad, because while interaction is not absolutely necessary in a game, it’s often what makes games fun.

When designing a game, I try to ensure that the players choices and strategies are constantly impacted by other players’ choices and strategy, and that players can deliberately use this to hinder opponents. The important word is “deliberately”. Games where players decisions impact other players are only fun if this is deliberate, not if it is a side effect. Bluffing and tactics are my favourite tools to generate interaction, but there are a few other ones.

Bruno Faidutti

I’ve begun to realise that a good chunk of my games feature benefiting your opponents in some fashion, and creating that moment of decision as to how best help yourself while not helping your opponents too much. It creates a neat little tension point and keeps you engaged because your game state changes positively when its not your turn. Sure, not everybody’s going to like it if they were super competitive, but to me, fun happens when everyone has positive moments, not just the winner.

Christopher Chung

I love nothing more than tricking people. The Lady and the Tiger: Doors is nothing but that one mechanic, as distilled as it can be. Ninjitsu! offers the chance to set traps and trick people into stumbling into them. And Dracula’s Feast would be a pure logic puzzle if it weren’t for misdirection; if people rely on your tricks, it messes up their logic, allowing you to beat them to solving the puzzle.

Peter Hayward

I try to ensure that the players choices and strategies are constantly impacted by other players’ choices and strategy, and that players can deliberately use this to hinder opponents. The important word is “deliberately”. Games where players decisions impact other players are only fun if this is deliberate, not if it is a side effect. — Bruno Faidutti

My favourite interaction in games is when a player has to build on something created by another player or players. This can be in a mechanical or narrative sense. One of my favourite things is when a map needs to be fleshed out or arranged by players at the start of play, because I like hearing everyone talk about their reasoning for placing things in specific locations and the imagined history behind their decisions. One player’s choice will influence the next player’s choice and so on. It’s a great way to get players invested early.

Clio Davis

My favourite type of interaction is cooperation in a competitive game, so a player needs to cooperate or help another player so he can get closer to the victory. This interaction can’t be introduced in all designs, but when I have the opportunity to add it, I try to do it, specially if this interaction can match easily with the theme.

Eloi Pujadas

My favourite type of interaction in games is when players co-create a narrative that goes beyond what is expected of them. Games such as Betrayal at House on the Hill and Dead of Winter are brilliant at this, and have led to many of my most enjoyable gaming experiences. The games that I design tend to be more abstract than narrative-driven, but this is something that I am working on…

Sam Illingworth

One of my favorite things is when a map needs to be fleshed out or arranged by players at the start of play, because I like hearing everyone talk about their reasoning for placing things in specific locations and the imagined history behind their decisions. — Clio Davis

My favourite type of interaction is when players affect each other by affecting the common game space. While this can sometimes allow for quite direct moments of player interaction, I prefer this to player targeting or “take that” mechanisms. Building roads in Catan or placing lava tiles in The Downfall of Pompeii can be mean, but these moves permanently alter the play space for everyone and usually have multiple ramifications. The focus is on interacting with the game system to generate consequences for your opponents. When designing a game with this sort of interaction, I try to make an intriguing and dynamic space in the game that all players can affect. For example, the growing forest in Cacao or the un-sailed ships in Imhotep.

Phil Walker-Harding

Whether it’s mastering the game’s system or tricking opponents by bluffing, I provide opportunities in the games I design to feel clever. By ensuring that the moving pieces interact on multiple levels and creating points of interaction between the player, their opponents, and the game itself, I challenge players to overcome adversity with the resources at their disposal in interesting ways. I do this by keeping the system fairly transparent so the interactions aren’t hidden behind esoteric rules and providing players with the agency to create opportunities for themselves to plan ahead and be clever rather than relying on luck.

Sen-Foong Lim

I’m actually a fan of take that stuff in games, but there shouldn’t be too much. Just enough to be able to pull it out of your back pocket every once in a while, letting you remind the other players that they shouldn’t get too big for their boots. It shouldn’t be a huge attack – more like a little sting, a quick pull back to hopefully even the field. I’m working on a new title at the moment that, should players choose to play a bit more aggressively, they’ll be rewarded – however, it will leave them open to more attacks, and other players are encouraged to do just that. Make it fun and not too painful, and folks will generally get involved.

Michael Fox

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