In Gamasutra's latest feature
, Tony Ventrice with gamification platform developer Badgeville cites research which suggests that flow only comes with mastery, and posits two techniques for bringing players into the state.
"Flow" is the psychological concept of being fully immersed and engaged in an activity. Ventrice writes that for those who have mastery over a task, their performance is automatic -- and that allows them to slip into a flow state.
When researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi originally devised the concept, his "early subjects were artists performing tasks that would certainly seem
difficult to an observer with no advanced talent in the field of painting."
But they had mastered the actual skills involved and were able to engage in the task of painting as an automatic learned process. So how can we get gamers into this state?
Ventrice posits two methods:
. In this case, the game implicitly requires a sophisticated set of skills learned from past games, such as a new FPS that assumes hundreds of hours spent playing previous shooters."
"Innate human skills
. In this case, the game relies on skills most humans have acquired unknowingly through thousands of hours of simply being alive. Anyone who's played Where's Waldo was probably, even at a young age, immediately engrossed in spotting that little striped hat and jacket like a pro."
He goes into further details on this, more research on flow, and also into what games and art appreciation have in common in the new feature, which is live now on Gamasutra