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How the gorilla concentration test could help your game design skills

If you're struggling to figure out how to keep players' attention focused in the right space in your current game, this interview with escape room designer Laura E. Hall may help.

Okay, before you read any further, stop and watch this video. Trust us, it’ll help.

Back? Okay, how many of you spotted the gorilla? Whether you did or didn’t, you might not realize that the misdirection at play in the video (commonly called the selective attention test), is a skill that could help you as a game designer. 

How you might ask? Well while we were chatting with escape room designer Laura Hall in advance of her 2017 GDC talk, it’s a way to take advantage of people’s natural survival instincts and get them to pay attention to certain details of your game, so their imagination can fill in the gaps. 

“You don’t have to fill out every detail because people’s imaginations will fill in the blanks, especially when it comes to archetypical themes like fear responses, that sort of thing. You don’t have to say there’s something in the next room, or show a scary picture of it, you can just make a scratching noise on the door.”

That might sound a bit obvious—especially in the context of the horror genre—but when you’re making puzzle rooms, real or virtual, it’s a tool you can use to overcome budgetary limitations. 

This tactic—and the many others Hall talked about in our conversation earlier—will be a part of her upcoming talk at GDC 2017, one you should check out if your’e going to the show. In the meantime, be sure to watch the ful video above for more tips on puzzle design and spatial design that can help your career. 

And if this video helped you, please be sure to subscribe to the Gamasutra Twitch Channel for more regular developer interviews, editor roundtables, and gameplay commentary. 

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