Tuesday, October 7, 2008

flOw and "Flow Theory"

Every so often you come across one of those little jewel time-waster flash web games that ingratiate themselves to you. I found one yesterday called "flOw" by Jenova Chen. The neat thing about it is that it is in a 'spiritual' series of games based on "flow theory" which is essentially "the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it (Csikzentmihalyi, 1991) .” and the subject of Chen's Thesis. The thesis "provides a unique game design methodology to realize player-centric Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (DDA) in video games, which creates optimized video game experiences for different types of players." as stated on the Flow in Games site. The potential is limitless... Chen is even working on a math quiz that uses "Flow Theory" which you can try on the site.

The game I was playing flOw: "...is a game about piloting an aquatic organism through a surreal biosphere where players consume other organisms, evolve, and advance their organisms to the abyss. As part of Jenova Chen's thesis research, flOw inherits an embedded design of active DDA (dynamic difficulty adjustment), players with differing skill levels can intuitively customize their experiences in the zone and enjoy the game at their own pace. “Addicting” is the most common word its fans use to describe it." I'll vouch -it was addicting. (And yes there IS a connection to "Spore" - search the forums and you'll find it.)

Cool. Now, how does this relate to ARG? Specifically, how does "Flow Theory" apply to the self-organizing nature of the player base and the 42 Entertainment inverted triangle model of player participation?

6 comments:

Segosher said...

This sounds intriguing. I better not even THINK of clicking that link until I'm out of danger of spending the rest of the afternoon not working.

robertreynolds86 said...

I've tried playing this and I can honestly say I have no idea wtf is going on (kinda like when I first tried to find an ARG to play).

The instructions posted on the page were pretty vague and didn't really explain what was going on. I had to get on the forums to read the full instructions (which appear to be written by players) to really get a grasp of the whole picture.

So maybe creating a confusing first experience with a game is important in a self-organizing player base.

webula said...

FLOW is great, reminds me of We love Katamari for Playstation where you keep eating stuff up until you become the size of a planet!

Totally addictive, you just want to keep eating stuff up until you bust!

Katamari link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Love_Katamari

Jax D. said...

I'm kinda in both places, like robertreynolds86 I see it's like an ARG where you have no clue as to what the hell is happening in the beginning and then you start moving and it's a little less fuzzy.

On the other hand it has the qualities of an ARG. The game adapts to the player and it also has more to do with community and player interaction.

The game optimizes itself for the player. In the books we've read from Sulborski(sp) he mentions the best way to play an ARG is to taylor it to play it for your self to have fun at it not to make yourself become a character.

Zen Almasri said...

I played the game for a good 30 minutes and then thought "Hey I wanna play Gears Of War now." So it was entertaining but I dont think I got addicted really. It would be fun if I could play it on my phone and stuff tho. The controls were a bit hard to grasp at first but I got it down after a bit.

Andrew Stallings said...

If Hex 168 is an ARG, why?

It's a bunch of people creating bizarre videos, voting on them, and eventually a select few win a prize.

Assume this is an ARG or atleast Chaotic Fiction.

The only thing that separates this from YouTube is the prize at the end. If we agree that YouTube is neither CF or an ARG that means Chaotic Fiction or ARGs require a prize.

Grass roots ARGs destroy that claim. So either YouTube is an ARG or CF or Hex 168 is neither.