Assignment 2: Unnecessary Obstacles

“The voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”
-Bernard Suits (1978)

Choose a trivial action, activity, or goal, and add an unnecessary obstacle or constraint that makes it compelling and gamelike.


Good example: QWOP – move from point A to point B but you control thighs and calves individually.

Bad example: move from point A to point B in a GTA-like game but the controls are inverted.

Bad example: move from point A to point B in a GTA-like game but you have a very limited about of time

In other words, is the new constrain just an inconvenience or rather:
it adds new expressive possibilities (e.g. it’s humorous or meaningful per se)
it immediately stimulates ideas for levels or scenarios
it makes the system easy to learn but difficult to master

More examples

You have to park cars but you can’t brake

You have to move boxes from point A to point B but you can only push them

You are a snake and you have to eat the apples but you can’t cross your own body

You are playing snake but you also poop and eating poop makes you grow

You collect coins in a platformer game but the coins don’t just disappear

You have to put your makeup on but in the dark

You need to communicate a word but you can only use your body

Divide in groups of 3. Write down the ideas as you brainstorm.

Think about how sports or playground games operate in their elegance and simplicity (don’t step on the cracks). 

>Pick 3 non digital games that add a simple constraint to an otherwise straightforward action.
>Devise 3 unique variants for each game by changing the contraint.
>Can they be adapted to videogames?

Think about how standard control systems are already creating arbitrary constraints and can be complicated and reimagined.

>Pick 3 well known gameplays or control system, and think of games that better exemplify them.
> Add a rule that makes them more “realistic”?
> Replace one rule in order to generate a unique gameplay (VVVVV)?

Think about how to gamify everyday activities.

> Think about 3 non-game activities that could be represented in a videogame (e.g. cooking)

> For each activity add a rule, object, or situation that would not be possible in the real world and that could turn them into a game.

Summarize each of the concepts above in one sentence and write them down on a piece of paper.

Pass the sheets around: each student makes a dot next to the ideas that seem more promising, interesting, or feasible.