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Harnessing 'Flow,' Other Psychological Techniques In Games

In a new <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6145/psychology_is_fun.php">Gamasutra feature</a>, psychology researcher and writer Neils Clark argues that games must meet psychological needs for players -- or otherwise they aren't doing their job

September 23, 2010

1 Min Read

Author: by Staff

In a new Gamasutra feature, psychology researcher and writer Neils Clark argues that games must meet psychological needs for players -- or otherwise they aren't doing their jobs effectively. In the piece, which encompasses several different techniques, one which Clark examines is flow, which he calls "that perfect balance between challenge and skill." "Composing melodies, writing a screenplay, or even perfecting a set job on a factory line, there's a point at which creative generation begins to pour, or flow, naturally from our minds," writes Clark. However, unlike real, learned and practiced skills, "Designers can tap flow's engagement, while demanding only a fraction of the dedication. In reality, we favor the challenges that make us feel we're accomplishing something profound." This technique is important because, "In reality, we favor the challenges that make us feel we're accomplishing something profound. In this way flow states are immensely powerful. They can provide gamers all the joy of a life worth living, without any of the struggle." The piece -- Psychology is Fun -- is live today on Gamasutra, and discusses many more theories of how the mind can interact with games. This includes means to provide pleasure, and, yes, addictive qualities to the player.

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