For the past six months, I’ve been part of a blogging collective over at Gaming as Women. I write on a variety of topics, from the psychology of role-playing to story structures to book reviews. It’s been pointed out to me that I ought to cross-post here when I have a piece go up, so expect to see some of that in the future.
Here’s an excerpt from one of my pieces for the site, On Being Left-Handed.
The core action for a pencil is writing. When we pick it up, there are a limited number of grips that allow us to point the tip downwards and give us the necessary control. If we’re using a pencil for something other than writing, there are other ways to hold it! But the pencil-hand relationship in the context of writing leads to a certain set of human behaviors. The way we hold a pencil isn’t fully determined by the pencil itself, nor by the human hand, nor by the goal of writing. It’s an interaction between all three.
Let’s take a step back and apply this to games. We can think about game rules as designed objects, and the human mind as the way we’re engaging with them. Game rules are, one hopes, designed for a specific purpose. Taken together, the rule and the player’s mind produce certain expected behaviors in the context of play. A player feedback mechanic, for example, might be designed to encourage players to be more over-the-top in their in-game actions. If it succeeded, it would do so because of the relationship between the mechanic and some of the ways the human mind works, in the context of the goal of more badass awesomeness.