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Feature: Principles of Virtual Sensation

For <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20061114/swink_01.shtml">the latest Gamasutra feature</a> we present an insightful look from Flashbang Studios game designe...

Brandon Boyer, Blogger

November 14, 2006

2 Min Read

For the latest Gamasutra feature we present an insightful look from Flashbang Studios game designer Steve Swink at the principles of creating 'feel' in games: the art of giving players a feeling of challenge, mastery, and control. Just as with the animation industry's eleven principles that both define it and cautify it as a medium of expression, so too, says Swink, should games have its own set of principles that define "good-feeling gameplay." In this excerpt, Swink outlines those principles: "The seven principles of virtual sensation defined here will hopefully enable game designers – or indeed, anyone concerned with human-computer interaction – to improve the “gut feel” of the interface. They are a conscious attempt to improve the users’ unconscious experience. 1. Predictable Results - Allowing a sense of mastery and control by correctly interpreting player input and providing consistent, predictable results. 2. Novelty – There are an infinite number of results from the same input. 3. Good Feedback – Enabling mastery, control, and learning by rewarding player experimentation. 4. Low Skill Floor, High Skill Ceiling – Making the mechanic intuitive but deep; it takes minutes to pick up and understand but a lifetime to master. 5. Context – Giving a mechanic meaning by providing the rules and spatial context in which it operates 6. Impact and Satisfying Resolution – Defining the weight and size of objects through their interaction with each other and the environment. 7. Appealing Reaction – Producing appealing reaction regardless of context or input. The application of these principles should transcend different “genres” and types of games, applying to 2d and 3d games alike. Anywhere there is virtual sensation these principles should help improve it." Reprinted from Swink's own website, the feature gives not only his extensive explanations on each of those principles, but playable examples illustrating his theories. You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including more on the feeling of ownership following these principles can engender as players express themselves in a meaningful way through a game. (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

About the Author(s)

Brandon Boyer


Brandon Boyer is at various times an artist, programmer, and freelance writer whose work can be seen in Edge and RESET magazines.

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