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Gaming insight gives advantage to players

Social media gaming is big business and British company Mediatonic is a world leader in it.

The company teamed up with Dr Justin Parsler, Senior Lecturer in Games Design at Brunel University London. He offered important insights that influenced Mediatonic’s design strategy and improved the user experience of more than a million players.

The research explored the balance between freedom of action and constraints, such as the rules of the game. It also incorporated philosophical ideas about free will.

Unlike previous studies, Dr Parsler provided specific insights into the most appropriate rules to use in different circumstances. He found that gamers see non-player characters as individuals in their own right not just computer-generated code.

He noted that players like to create, as it gives authorship to the experience, and that “earned” progression or possessions are most valued.

A meaningful experience is vital if players are to engage with the game every day for months or years. For Superbia (Disney 2012), this finding influenced how much players were allowed to personalise their own space and choose their own way around the game. This extra value led to more than 1 million UK players.

Similarly, strategies in support of Amateur Surgeon: Bleed Everywhere went beyond those commonly used within the industry to monetise games. Dr Parsler’s insight was that if gamers had to work harder than is common in such games, they would choose to pay to gain the rewards instead. This resulted in a higher than expected monetisation whilst still retaining players.

The insights had direct commercial impact. Mediatonic changed key design aspects, which resulted in higher than usual success rates for those titles. This helped the company secure multiple contracts worth more than £2 million.