Concentration training by playing Papers, please
During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!
This week: This time, I like to discuss how the main game mechanic of „Papers, please“ is challenging the concentration ability of a player. Furthermore, I like to propose the assumption that playing „Papers, please“ will train the player’s concentration ability.
„Papers, please„, developed by Lucas Pope, is an indie game that puts the player into the role as an employee of the Ministry of Admission of the fictive country Arstotzka, who’s duties are to check the documents of entrants at a border checkpoint. The player needs to make sure that every document is valid before an „Approved“ stamp is applied to the entrant’s passport. In order to fulfill the duties, the border checkpoint is equipped with a rule book that explains all the requirements for valid documents. Apart from the daily business of checking documents, the player is sometimes faced with moral issues, when entrants with a special background story try to enter the country. At this point, it’s up to the player whether he likes to help people out or to stick to the rules and deny the entrant.
From my „learning by gaming“ point of view, the most interesting fact about this game comes from the procedure of checking documents. Every entrant hands over several documents the player has to check before the finale dicision is made. Each document provides different information about the entrant and the player needs to check if these information are valid.
As an example, the passport of an entrant provides the player with the following information: picture, date of birth, gender, city, expiration date and passport number. After receiving the document, the player has to check if all the information do apply to the entrant. Sometimes, the player even has to cross-reference information over different documents.
The game mechanic of checking documents challenges the concentration ability of the player. The player has to pay attention to every single line of each document and has to make sure that the information presented is valid. This task gets more and more complicated over time, because the player will receive sometimes more than four different documents at once. Additionally, the player works against the time, because each day at the border checkpoint has a certain length and the player gets paid for the amount of checked entrants. In this case, the player also feels the need of checking the documents as fast as possible to get enough money at the end of the day to keep the own family alive. This time constraint however influences the player’s concentration and thus is making the player vulnerable to mistakes.
As a conclusion of this blog post, I like to propose the assumption that playing „Papers, please“ will train the concentration ability of a player. In order to score well, the player is encouraged to focus on the given information about an entrant. Moreover, the player starts to develop the awareness for anomalies and differences between the rules and/or the different documents. In the end, this concentration ability can help the players in other parts of their life, when they need to process new information within a short amount of time.