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Session Name:

Breaking the Rules of Game Design: When to Go Against Competence, Autonomy and Relatedness


A psychological result that is being heavily used in game design these days is that the strongest known correlation between player retention and game design is whether the game provides Autonomy (player choice) Competence (players feel capable) and Relatedness (players receive recognition). As designers we've learned how to follow these rules, but when is it right to break them?

This talk will explore games that break autonomy, competence and relatedness in powerful ways, from Valve's Portal to Brenda Brathwaite's Mechanic is the Message board games and analyze the value these games gain by breaking rules. These examples will be distilled to a design technique that lives at the intersection of ludology (game mechanics) and narrative, along with analysis of when to use and when not to use such techniques.

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  • GDC 2012
  • Kaitlyn Burnell
  • Naughty Dog
  • free content
  • Game Design
  • Design