The Secret to Successful Games is the Secret to Successful Books
What is the one attribute that every successful song, Broadway performance, blog post, Hollywood movie, public speech, TV ad, book and YouTube video has in common?
While you mull the question, check out this short video. It’s quickly going viral on YouTube and Facebook. It features a simple scene in rural India where a few boys are trying to record their motorbike stunts on video. One of the boys is showing off the stunts, while another is directing him. A third boy is holding the video camera.
Now reflect on the video. See it again if you need to. Would it have been fun if the last part of the video (the grand finale) had appeared at the very beginning? Not really. It is the build-up and the anticipation that makes the video fun. Also think about how the video ends. It leaves most people wanting more. In other words, it catches your attention with a hook, builds up your anticipation and then shows you the grand finale. It then finishes off with a post grand-finale scenario that leaves you wanting to see more.
Jesse Schell, author of the seminal book, The Art of Game Design refers to this as an Interest Curve. An Interest Curve looks something like this:
The idea is to plot the “interestingness” of the experience across the time taken to enjoy the experience. Every successful entertainment experience starts out with a bang (the hook) that gets the audience interested. Then it eases up on the interestingness factor (to give the audience a chance for an emotional breather.) Then it keeps rising and falling until it finally culminates in the grand finale. Post the grand finale, there is a dip in the interestingness so as to give the audience time to decompress after experiencing the grand finale. This leaves them wanting more as they exit the experience.
It is the combination of peaks and valleys that makes the overall experience enjoyable. If you had only valleys, the experience would be boring. If you had only peaks then it would be exhausting for the audience and there would be no chance for a build-up. Also, if you put the grand finale in the beginning, the audience will lose interest soon after that.
Most good authors get this concept. They are able to write great content keeping this principle in mind. Even good non-fiction authors use this principle in the stories that they embed within their non-fiction books.
Since this principle is so universally applicable, we at BookBuzzr believe that good authors can also create interesting games which will appeal to their respective audiences. All they need are the tools to create such a game with peaks and troughs of interestingness. Keeping this in mind, we’re now working on a quiz game technology that incorporates the idea of interest curves. Stay tuned for this feature which is expected to release in the next few months.