As a senior game designer and developer at Fan Studio, I often strive to create engaging and immersive game experiences that capture the attention of players. One of the most effective ways of keeping players interested and motivated is by incorporating humor and a well-crafted narrative into the game design. In this article, I will discuss the importance of humor and narrative in game development and how they can be utilized to fight player boredom.
Using Humor to Engage Players
Puzzle games, in particular, can often be challenging and intellectually demanding. As players navigate through the levels, they can quickly become bored if the content is too cerebral and lacks a sense of levity. In order to remedy this, the game design should incorporate humor and lightheartedness.
The developers at Valve, for instance, recognized this challenge while creating the game “Portal.” In the commentary, they discuss how players started getting bored or tired around the 5th or 6th room of the game due to the intellectual puzzles becoming more and more sophisticated. In order to keep players engaged, the Valve team experimented with a few approaches and decided to take advantage of the narrator in the game, GLaDOS.
By turning GLaDOS into a character, they were able to make the audio that players were listening to more entertaining. For instance, at the beginning of each level, after certain actions, and at the end, players would hear silly comments and sarcastic remarks from GLaDOS. This lighthearted audio humor proved to be effective, as it provided a momentary break from the left-brain puzzle-solving and kept players interested and engaged.
Integrating Humor into the Game Narrative
It’s important to note that the humor in “Portal” did not only serve to provide a momentary break from the puzzle-solving. Valve also integrated the humor into the game’s narrative. By using GLaDOS not only as a mechanism for delivering jokes, but also as a source of backstory about the world and instructions for the player, and finally as a final boss, the game designers were able to keep players invested in the story and make the experience more enjoyable.
The Importance of Voice-Over Narration
One crucial aspect of this design solution is the choice of voice-over narration rather than text. Reading can be tedious for many players, especially those who prefer action games or first-person shooters. With voice-over narration, players are forced to enjoy the humor, even if they would have otherwise skipped over it. Additionally, the use of voice-over narration rather than text makes the design feasible on platforms such as console or downloadable titles, where audio file size is not a concern.
Avoiding Optional or Required Player Action
Another crucial aspect of this design solution is that it occurred without the player’s doing. Players did not need to go out of their way to find humorous jokes by flipping switches or performing any action. The humor was integrated into the normal path of the game and ran automatically, ensuring that players were exposed to it. If the humor was optional or required player action, many players may have chosen to focus solely on moving forward and would have missed out on the humor that helped to keep them engaged.
By using humor in audio narration and integrating it into the game’s narrative, game developers can enhance the overall player experience. Additionally, by using voice-over narration rather than text and avoiding optional or required player action, developers can ensure that the humor is accessible to all players and adds to the overall enjoyment.
Fan Studio’s Experience
At Fan Studio, we have put our expertise in humor and narrative to use in developing a variety of successful games. One such example is a virtual pet simulator for kids who are allergic to pets. We understood the importance of making the game entertaining and engaging for the target audience, and we succeeded in doing so through the use of humor and narrative.
In conclusion, humor and narrative are crucial elements in keeping players engaged in a game. Our experience at Fan Studio has shown that they are essential in creating a successful and enjoyable gaming experience. Whether it be through well-timed jokes or a captivating story, we know how to keep players coming back for more.