USING GAME TECHNOLOGIES IN PRODUCTION IS A LEAP OF FAITH

By Mikkel Lodahl

How can game tech help us understand trust in digital design
and visualization? Read on for more on how the use of game engines
or principles such as gamification can induce creativity in digital productions.

See the full IWDK21 Magazine or Viden Djurs ‘Spilteknologier rykker grænserne for moderne digitalt design’

In the Assassin’s Creed games – huge, history-based open world games, where you play, well, an assassin – one of the ways to explore the world is to climb to very high spots. In 15th century Venice, you might climb St. Mark’s Cathedral, while Big Ben awaits in 19th Century London, and the Parthenon itself in Ancient Greece. It’s exciting stuff, scaling historical monuments through the ages, moving ever closer to the place at the apex, where you can finally press a button and be rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view. But it’s not nearly as exciting to climb down. You don’t see pictures of ecstatic mountaineers encompassing the entire world in a joyous embrace after they’ve gotten back to the foot of the mountain. The designers at Ubisoft, who make the Assassin’s Creed games, solved this with a clever mechanic: the leap of faith. Once you’ve reached the apex of a building, there’ll always be something you can jump down into safely. It can be a haystack, a small lake or even a conveniently placed pile of rose petals. If you did this in real life, you would die. No amount of rose petals can cushion your fall enough to let you survive the leap from St. Mark’s Cathedral. But the game asks you to trust that you can do this. The mechanic is introduced early on, and you recognize it throughout the game. Once your life has been saved by one haystack, you can trust the others. This is how games deal with trust. They establish rules that you can be certain are followed not only where the rules were first established, but everywhere in the game. Climbing the rooftops of Paris during the French Revolution is stressful enough in itself, so the game makes sure you can trust where you can leap.

This doesn’t only apply to digital games. We’d be just as enraged, if not more, by our friend cheating in poker, or by our word processor casually substituting words for other words. However, if you try writing something in Danish while the spell checker is set to English, it will do just that – because you trust the word processor is playing by the same rules you are, but it’s not. When you put a product in a cart in a webshop, you expect that webshop to remember what you put in there even as you browse other wares and websites. If it doesn’t do that properly, this indicates the rules are broken – and you probably won’t buy anything there. WWW.IWDK.DK 43 I

“They establish rules that you can be certain are followed not only where the rules were first established, but everywhere in the game.”

Whether we scale tall buildings in AAA games, shop online or use productivity software to create, we have to trust we are playing by the same rules as the program. Otherwise, we’ll never again take that leap of faith