Purdue OWL–APA Formatting and Style Guide
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“Aliens shrink cupcakes!” in Hopscotch–
Gameplay consists of two characters–an alien sprite and a cupcake sprite, each of which move at slightly different speeds and “bounce” off edges at different angles. When the alien collides with the cupcake, it shrinks it. Tapping the cupcake causes the cupcake to grow. (Players can do this either in response to shrinking or pre-emptively.) Tapping the alien only gives feedback that it’s been tapped (meaning you can’t pause or alter the alien’s course).
Playing as a “kid,” I found myself having to roll out some basic math and geometry knowledge…! (For example–what value should I set both of the sprites to move if I wanted to ensure that they never changed course without hitting an edge. In other words, I had to remember how to calculate the hypoteneuse of a right triangle.) I (as a kid) wanted to make sure that my game could be fun, made sense, and was at least a little chaotic. Difficulties (over which there were many) were overcome by much testing and re-testing. No fiero moments, unfortunately, because (both as a kid and not) I had much more that I wanted to do with my game and making even simple stuff work started to feel like a bit of a slog after awhile. This disappointment, however, did give me (kid and adult) a added respect for game designers and programmers.
I found Shapiro’s argument in this talk extremely compelling, and not just because he seems a good–dynamic, effective–lecturer. The notion of “scaffolding for emptiness” also strikes me as something much more than just a catchy phrase. This notion calls to mind, as well, one of the central arguments of the Narrative Game Studio course I’m taking this semester: that good narrative game design, design that is both efficiently produced and engaging to the player, contains “gaps”–in the main story, in the world the game has built around it–for the player to fill in for himself/herself. This is also, I think, one of the principle ways that science fiction can be so compelling.
I’m also glad I watched this video because it provided a much smarter formulation of my own skepticism about digital badges and the like in Shaprio’s assertion that gamification (as he defines it in his argument) is “built on the assumption that what we need is a better competitive, commodified motivation system.”
I do disagree with part of Shapiro’s argument (which he does qualify a bit in the Q&A), though, wherein he claims that players don’t really care about levelling-up (and points, achievements, etc.). I’m thinking here of RPGs, where much of the appeal of the game is in determining a path for development of your character, which I think can feel very empowering, part of that empowerment being the exploration of different kinds of self.