It came from GDC: Sid Meier is my hero, or player psychology and game design

People who play games are egomaniacs. It says on the box you get to control armies, discover new technology, and create entire civilizations. So, right away, you’re an egomaniac.

-Sid Meier

If there is one law of computer gamers, it is that everybody loves Civilisation. So when the game’s designer, Sid Meier, gives a talk about game design, it’s worth listening to what he has to say.

Kotaku has a good summary of the legendary designer’s keynote speech from GDC. He touches on how he designs around the idea that every player likes to win, and how he views the psychological effects of rewarding or punishing players. This is Venturebeat’s coverage of the same talk.

The other part that caught my eye was the comment on protecting the player from themselves. Or in other words, players tend to be risk averse which doesn’t always help them learn better strategies. For example, when saves are freely available, players often save their progress before every battle and just reload and try again until they win. This can make it harder for them to see where an improved strategy could help them in the bigger picture.

Sid also plays WoW, incidentally. But sadly he doesn’t take the opportunity here to make a few suggestions to Blizzard.

5 thoughts on “It came from GDC: Sid Meier is my hero, or player psychology and game design

  1. I have to admit, I’ve done the “save before this battle so I can try again if I lose the unit”. I tried to stop it by having it save the random seed, so reloading wouldn’t change the outcome, until I realized I could just fight a battle with a different probability first. It would help if I didn’t sometimes lose a modern armor to nearly-dead cavalry. Or it would help if I was better at balancing unit production with city improvement and had units to spare. But cheating is so much easier than getting better!

  2. Pingback: Psychochild’s Blog » Weekend Design Challenge: A lack of egomania

  3. […]If there is one law of computer gamers, it is that everybody loves Civilisation.[…]
    you just speak out what i am thinking like every (raid-)day. i still have civ installed (not that easy to get it work on win7) and running during raids to take some rounds during breaks and endless discussions if something goes wrong 🙂

  4. While I do think that having a solid body of work behind you goes a long way toward qualifying your opinions, I don’t know, man. Pete Molyneux is a pretty good counterpoint, and after Spore I’m a little hesitant to just give Meier a pass.

    (Still, from the stories I’ve heard about Sid Meier’s Secret Robot Lab up in the north bay, I’ll believe anything he says if it’ll get me in to see what he’s working on up there.)

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