Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

# Fundamentals of Game Design: Understanding Your Player

This chapter is from the book

## The Dangers of Binary Thinking

You can’t make a game for everyone, so your target audience is necessarily a subset of all possible players, a subset determined by your answers to the questions “Who will enjoy this game?” and “What kinds of challenges do they like?” As you answer these questions, you may be tempted to assume that the people in one category (adult men, for example) are a special audience that has nothing in common with people in other categories (adult women, children, teenagers, and so on). This is binary thinking: You assume that if group A likes a thing, everyone outside that group won’t like it. It’s unsound reasoning and may actually cause you to lose part of your potential customer base, as the following sections demonstrate.

### Reasoning Statistically about Player Groups

Suppose you ask a group of players to rate their level of interest in a particular game on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing no interest at all and 10 being fanatical enthusiasm. A few people will be at the extremes and the majority somewhere in the middle. If you graph the responses of men and women separately, you may find for a given game that the two groups have different arithmetic means; that is, the centers of their bell-shaped curves fall at different places on the graph.

Figure 4.3 shows this phenomenon. For the hypothetical game in question, men’s mean level of interest is at about 5.5, while women’s mean level of interest is at 4.5.

Note that while the graph does support the statement, “Men have a higher level of interest in this game than women do,” in fact, a large area of overlap indicates that a significant portion of the women surveyed are interested in the game as well. Furthermore, the number of women reporting an interest level of 6 is about two-thirds that of the number of men reporting the same interest level. In other words, two-fifths of all the people reporting an interest level of 6 are women—far too many to simply ignore.

This is only a hypothetical example. With some games, the level of overlap may be small, and there is no point in trying to reach out to an audience that simply isn’t there. A game for five-year-olds won’t appeal to many 15-year-olds. The point, however, is that for most ordinary games there is some overlap among different populations. (For example, many Disney movies made for children include more sophisticated content that only adults would notice or find funny, thereby giving the film a broad appeal.) It is foolish to ignore, or worse yet, to offend a minority audience simply because it is in the minority, without knowing how many people fall into that category. If you ignore or repel a significant minority, you’re throwing money away.

### Strive for Inclusiveness, Not Universality

You cannot make a game that appeals to everyone by throwing in a hodgepodge of features because group A likes some of them and group B likes others. If you do, you will produce a game that has too many features and no harmony. For instance, you can’t make a game that appeals to action fans, to strategy fans, and to fans of management simulations by combining kung fu, chess, and Monopoly—the result would be a mess that appeals to none of them. On the other hand, you can include a story line in a fighting game so long as the story line doesn’t interfere with the gameplay. The story line adds depth to the game without driving away its key market of fighting-game enthusiasts, and it might attract the interest of people who otherwise wouldn’t pay any attention to a fighting game. Heavenly Sword and God of War are good examples.

Certain groups are turned off by particular content or features. For example, women don’t much care for material that portrays them as brainless sex objects; parents won’t buy games for their kids if the games are nothing but blood and gore; members of minority races (and many in the majority too) are naturally offended by racist content. These are the most obvious examples, but there are more subtle ones as well. Women are generally more sensitive to the aesthetics of a game than men are, and they are less likely to buy a game with ugly artwork. Some players have no interest in narrative material and are put off if they are forced to watch it in a genre that doesn’t normally include narratives. (This is why the story line in the kung fu game, mentioned earlier, shouldn’t interfere with the gameplay.) These examples illustrate the effects of exclusionary material—content or features that serve to drive players away from a game that they otherwise might like. Your goal should be to make the best game that you can about your chosen subject, while avoiding exclusionary material that unnecessarily hurts its appeal.

### Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

## Overview

Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

## Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

### Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

### Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

### Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

### Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

### Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

### Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

## Other Collection and Use of Information

### Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

### Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

### Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

## Security

Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

## Children

This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

## Marketing

Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

• Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
• Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
• Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
• Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

## Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

## Choice/Opt-out

Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

## Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

## Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

## Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

• As required by law.
• With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
• In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
• To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
• In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
• To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
• To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
• To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
• To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.