Influencing a Player’s Path

Darren Brown revealed to us how they were able to influence people to be more complicit and go along with their plan. By inching their foot in with small unnoticeable tasks like sticking vegetarian toothpicks into the sausage rolls, they were able to begin their plan for influencing the way the subject behaved. These small favors that grew larger and larger controlled the ultimate outcome of the situation, with either the subject choosing to push or not push, which ended up being only 1 person choosing not to push.

When taking into account how this whole social experiment was designed, it’s similar to how a game designer would think about creating an ARG. They have to think about how to get the player to start the game with rabbit holes and think about all of the different possibilities of routes that a player can take. With the clues they stumble upon, how will they problem solve and win the game? The game designer also has to think about the next steps a player will take in order to figure out how to design the rest of the game. Based on what we saw in Brown’s social experiment, you can influence and guide the player but you have to be prepared if the player does not choose the story path you wanted them to. However, the challenge with this is that the game designer cannot have an invasive presence inside the game, otherwise the idea of an alternate reality is compromised.

Too much influence from the game designer and it becomes noticeable to the players. This is a problem that must be avoided at all costs because it will cause the players to be aware and make them realize that they’re playing a game, rather than having the mindset that “this is not a game.” How much should the game designer be allowed to intervene in the game so that the player enjoys their playing time? Should a game be designed so that it is rigid and formal with structured paths to a predetermined ending or open-ended with no real set ending so that the player can uncover new elements within their alternate reality? If it’s the latter, what is considered the ending for the player?

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