We Love To Play In The Sandbox

Video game theorist and academic Jesper Juul outlined in his GDC keynote today the role that “goal-less” games can play in enticing new demographics. In his Serious Games Summit keynote speech, titled “A New Kind of Game: Broadening The Idea Of What Games Can Be“, Juul explained that open-ended games that provide a multitude of meaningful choices will attract a broader audience. A wider range of potential and current gamers could be attracted to games with no or optional goals.

He used The Sims 2 (pictured) and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as examples of this type of game, and went as far to say “They are almost the same game.” He added, “The game is a menu between sandbox mode and a story mode.”

You’d think goals are someting you need intrinsically in all games, but not everybody likes playing a game with goals all the time,” he said. During the session, he drove the point home by stating that narrow gameplay equals a narrow audience. Juul also insisted that a more varied audience can be reached if games would allow some means of expression.

Juul offered up a short list of the elements that make a successful goal-less game:
[i]
– A combinable range of actions: You have a choice of different ways to solve problems.
– The use of general systems, rather than a specific solution; the game should be flexible.
– Player decisions should present emotional dilemmas.
– For inspiration look to style, culture, fashion and problem-solving styles.[/i]

Source: Next-Gen.biz