GGWP

GAME UX/ 2024

ETHICAL GAME DESIGN / GAME UX / PSYCHOLOGY / RESEARCH / AI / PLAYER WELL-BEING / SOCIAL IMPACT
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OVERVIEW

Good Games Well Played (GGWP) is a Master of Design research project exploring the potential of ethical design principles to create a more mindful and player-centric gaming experience. As a lifelong gamer turned UX designer and researcher (Siddhant, aka simplysid), I embarked on this project driven by a concern for the potential negative impacts of some game design choices, while acknowledging the positive influence games can have on players' lives.

RESEARCH GOALS

  1. Investigate the impact of game design on player well-being.
  2. Identify opportunities to integrate ethical considerations into game narratives and mechanics, focusing on ethical pathways for improvement.
  3. Develop innovative concepts that promote healthy gaming habits while preserving the joy of play.

KEY FINDINGS

Players are receptive to the idea of ethical design practices that promote well-being within games, particularly when they align with the identified ethical pathways.

Integrating ethical considerations into existing game narratives offers a practical and iterative approach for the industry, scaling safety in games beyond parental controls.

Game assets and elements (monetized or not) have the potential to create a significant social impact than just being support to the story.

Innovation and responsible AI adoption can create games that are more context-aware and responsive to player behavior, while adhering to ethical principles.

The game design process does not need to be disrupted to integrate 'Good-Game' practices.

IDENTIFYING
IMPROVEMENTS

Navigating through this digital odyssey, four ethical pathways emerged as beacons: marketplace integrity, policy and rating board evolution, the power of self-regulation, and, most intriguingly, the transformation of game experience and mechanics. Each pathway, a quest in its own right, points towards a horizon where games are designed with a player-first ethos.

ethicalpathways

METHODOLOGY

REDDIT Q&A

Conducted online Reddit Q&A sessions to gain insights from players about their experiences and attitudes towards responsible gaming practices, with a focus on the ethical pathways identified above.

questions
CYCLE
GAME DESIGN TRENDS
(CASE STUDIES)

Analyzed current game design trends and identified areas for improvement in terms of player well-being, considering the ethical pathways for positive change. The following games were analyzed as case studies or platforms for 'Good-Game' concept implementations:

1. Cyberpunk 2077
2. World of Warcraft
3. Battlefield 2042
4. Animal Crossing

5. God Of War
6. The Last of Us
7. Valorant (Project)
8. Marathon (Project)
9. Destiny 2 (Project)

PROJECTS

INTENT-BASED GAMING

Addressing player engagement by exploring a concept based on Spotify’s enhanced playlist feature. The game curates a session based on the player’s intent.

Players could embark on these runs solo or with friends and, upon completion, receive bonus XP to encourage wrapping up their session. Moreover, the game cleverly generates a new tailored run for the next day, incentivizing players to step away and return later.

The solution tackles it through a system-driven solution as opposed to being a game mechanic.

intent
AI SKINS VS. TOXICITY

Focused on player’s mental health in competitive scenarios. Many games push our skills to the limits against other players. This is when toxicity becomes inevitable.

These interactive AI-powered skins would surface disruptive behavior and empower the players to report it while also educating them, not to forget training the AI models for accuracy over time. 

This project was also a stab at balancing business needs and player health. Not too disruptive, just repurposing what they have into something meaningful. It creates a fair ground where game assets become an influence of safety. 

aiskin
PLAYER AWARE NPCs
(NON-PLAYABLE CHARACTERS)

This project became a highlight of GGWP. It reimagines NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) to be more than just support in the storyline, a voice of reason.

Combined with a few key metrics like session duration, number of retries, and a few others that the game already tracks, NPCs could easily incentivize disengagement or suggest a less intense activity by conversing with the player.

The difference here is that unlike screen time or parental controls, this is drastically less disruptive and less likely to be ignored.

NPC

IMPACT

GGWP highlights the potential for games to be a positive force in players' lives. By prioritizing ethical considerations alongside player engagement, the industry can create a healthier gaming environment and contribute to the overall well-being of players. This project serves as a springboard for further exploration and collaboration in the field of ethical game design.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

  1. Develop specific metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of ethical design concepts in games.
  2. Analyze how the games industry has evolved since the research (before/after).
  3. Create ethical guidelines for the development and implementation of player-aware AI characters.
  4. Collaborate with game developers and studios to test and implement ethical design practices in real-world game projects.

End-to-end Thesis Presentation

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REACH OUT

HESITATION KILLS OPPORTUNITY
INSPIRED BY EVERYTHING 
DESIGNED & BUILT BY SIMPLYSID
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