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The Number One Educational Resource for the Game Industry

Session Name: Minimal vs Elaborate, Simple vs Complex and the Space Between
Speaker(s): Andy Nealen
Company Name(s): Rutgers University / Hemisphere Games
Track / Format: Game Design

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What is complexity and how is it measured? How does one add or remove complexity? How does complexity influence accessibility?

Starting with an analysis of Chess, Go, and Drop7, the "perceived complexity" of a game is introduced. This concept is rooted in a combination of measurable systemic complexity, the variety of player choices, as well as the audiovisual feedback. By reducing the perceived complexity we can make systemically complex games more accessible to a wider audience.

Using a variety of digital and non-digital games, a few different ways in which game designers can influence perceived complexity are suggested. This allows the exploration of the space between "minimal" and "elaborate" without compromising on the underlying complexity of the game system. Ideally, this will encourage designers to create complex, interesting systems that players from all walks of life can inhabit, explore, understand, and enjoy.

GDC 2012

Andy Nealen

Rutgers University / Hemisphere Games

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Game Design