November 17, 2006
(I should have thought to mention this earlier on here, but maybe at least one person will see this, happen to be in Philadelphia, and manage to come to the talk…)
Friday, Nov. 17, 2006
IRCS Large Conference Room
3401 Walnut – Suite 400A
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Jesper Juul, Center for Game Research in Copenhagen
Video game theorist and assistant professor in video game theory and design at the Center for Game Research in Copenhagen
Without a Goal
Games have had goals for millennia, and for good reason: Goals provide players with a clear sense of direction as well as a clear sense of accomplishment. In this talk, I will nevertheless argue that there is a problem with game goals: Goals often force players to focus on optimizing a strategy, at the expense of personal preferences such as issues of style or at the expense of social considerations in multi player games. This may not be an issue with the current generation of dedicated gamers, but it poses a problem if games want to reach a broader public that does not necessarily play video games on a daily basis.
A number of recent hit games have demonstrated that a game can be interesting because it has weak or non-existing goals. Hits such as the *Grand Theft Auto* series, *World of Warcraft*, and *The Sims* may be very different games, but they all share the fact that the player is free to perform actions that do not simply work towards a single game goal. In the presentation, I will focus on how video games seem to be moving away from the traditional “hardcore” model of punishing the player for every single mistake, and on how removing or weakening the goals of a game may expand the potential audience for a game.
Jesper Juul is a video game theorist and assistant professor in video game theory and design at the Centre for Computer Game Research Copenhagen where he also earned his Ph.D. His book Half-Real on video game theory was published by MIT Press in 2005. Additionally, he works as a multi-user chat systems and casual game developer. He is currently a visiting scholar at Parsons School of Design in New York City.