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Pet Rescue Saga: Mix and Match

[The following text is part of my upcoming master’s thesis on the use of game mechanics in therapy games for children. As part of my master’s thesis I am analysing already existing games that are commonly known to be addictive. A lot of those games are Facebook games.]

Pet Rescue Saga by King is probably one of the best examples of how certain game mechanics are not unique to a game, but can be adapted to other games. Pet Rescue Saga is basically a mixture between Diamond Dash and Candy Crush Saga, yet works surprisingly well.

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7 Game Design Rules that Apply to Therapy Games (as well)

My current job/civilian service has given me the unique opportunity to have a look at a variety of therapy games that have been designed for children’s neurorehabilitation. Most of those games come with specialised input devices.

As a matter of fact, it’s usually the input devices that come with games. Too often, the games seem to have been created as an afterthought of the device, and too often, those games have good intentions, but fail to deliver.

In order to be aware of those problems myself, I decided to make a list of my observations and how they could be mitigated.

The following points do not intend to discredit the work of all the people that designed and programmed the therapy games mentioned, it should merely discuss some problems that can occur and should be addressed when designing new games. Of course, that mostly means me, so I don’t fall into those pitfalls myself.

Common Pitfalls and their Resolutions

First of all, it has to be said that if you’re tasked with creating a therapy game for children, you have quite a challenge to overcome. Children are one of the most demanding audiences, and they will have no problems picking your game apart at the seams when they feel like it. They will feel most inclined to do so when you give them reasons. Like creating incoherent game worlds. A running dog that has to avoid exploding mushrooms by jumping whenever boing poked in the belly with a huge hand and meanwhile collecting diamonds that hang suspended in thin air?

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Social Mechanics: Raph Koster on Multiplayer Games

Since we will have to program a multiplayer game this semester, this presentation (PDF) by Raph Koster could come in handy: Social Mechanics: The Engines Behind Everything Multiplayer.

He held the presentation at the GDC, and it collects different game mechanics present in multiplayer games. Guess we could inspire ourselves with that.

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Too Expensive to Develop?

John Lanchester argues in this essay that the production of games has become so expensive, the democratic effect is vanishing – quite in contrast to the rest of media, where the internet made it simpler and cheaper to produce for.

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