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Session Name:

The Freedom Fallacy: Understanding "Player Autonomy" in Game Design


Every year, players expect that they will have ever-increasing agency (or autonomy) in their gameplay. Today's mainstream players want their games to have hundreds or even thousands of hours of gameplay, and they want to be the ones who direct that experience. As such, it is extremely valuable for developers to have a nuanced understanding of player autonomy, enabling them to satisfy players while avoiding common traps that lead down bad design roads. Chief among these traps is misunderstanding autonomy to mean "giving players freedom," which often leads to player frustration and disappointment rather than satisfaction. This session will not only review such autonomy pitfalls, but will outline an accurate blueprint of what autonomy truly means, give examples of how leading contemporary designs optimize for autonomy, and discuss best practices and issues for the future.

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  • GDC 2017
  • Scott Rigby
  • Immersyve
  • free content
  • Design
  • Design