The Joy of One-Button Games
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 think about how even one-button games can show a high entertainment rating when the conditions for flow are met.
Recently, a colleague installed a very simple game on the Apple TV connected to the large monitor standing in our meeting room: Jump Drive. During the gameplay, players are challenged to navigate a constantly forward flying star ship through the map that features moving obstacles. At first, the obstacles challenged us with simple movement patterns. Over time, however, the patterns and amount of obstacles got more complex thus achieving a significant challenge. Ultimately, the goal of the game is to collect purple diamonds that are used to unlock new ships or new challenges.
Although the gameplay might sound relatively complex, it remains very simple as a user can merely activate the ship’s jump drive that rapidly propels it forward by pressing a button on the Apple TV remote control. Thus, players are challenged to time the activation well in order to gather the maximum amount of points without colliding with an obstacle. Also, this very limited gameplay already shows high flow inducing properties as players are constantly facing new challenges, receive immediate feedback and follow clear rules. As a result, this little game achieves a high entertainment value.
Naturally, Jump Drive is not a game that can be played over a longer period but it can cause a helpful distraction that increases one’s creativity during stressful or cognitive demanding times at work. Also, as we mostly play this game together with a couple of colleagues, a certain degree of competition and excitement arises. We are cheering for the active player when they have a run or try to find out who can survive the longest.
Ultimately, the simple computer game Jump Drive demonstrates the importance of flow inducing properties as this state of mind even turns a One-Button Game into a very exciting activity.