I found this post I made on a gamasutra article, and I thought it might make good blog fodder.
It was in response to a comment about games that felt “disrespectful” of their players.
It seems to me like there are at least two types of players who want different things. One type likes to FEEL smart, or powerful. The other wants to solve problems that require them to BE powerful or smart, or whatever.
I’ve seen these groups over and over again in my career. We even designed separate multiplayer modes for each of them in Resistance 1. It’s a deeply polarized area, and emotions run high either way.
Obviously not all gamers fall into one of these two groups, it’s a continuum, and there are many other tastes, but for the sake of an example lets just consider these two.
In my experience, designing for the first group (whether it’s monetized by virtual goods or not) tends to be about giving the illusion of power or intelligence and manipulating emotions. It’s not disrespecting those particular players, it’s giving them what they want.
Try and do the same for the other group, though, and they get REALLY mad. It’s the opposite of what they want. They want challenge. They want parity, fairness, etc… It’s upsetting to them, and in their view disrespectful and dishonest, to be given the illusion of something.
In the end, I think both groups are great, and both deserve to have games designed with them in mind — they just want VERY different things and the process of design is different to give them those things.
In the end, I think it’s what you said. Respect your players and what they want. The start of that is making sure you’re REALLY clear on who your players are, and the end of that is following through and delivering the kind of thing that makes them happy.