GDZ 001 : How much is enough? The Paradox of Choice for Game Design

Game Design Zen : Episode 001

How much is enough? With Sid Meier defining games as a series of interesting and meaningful choices, we often stuff in as many choices as possible! In this episode we explore World of Warcraft and Rift, to show WHY the Paradox of Choice matters. We discuss how to design to avoid option paralysis, postponing decisions, and regret. We introduce flow, permanence, and practical tips we can apply today.

  • The Paradox of Choice (01:00) – Sid Meier
  • Psychology – Barry Schwartz (03:20)
  • Why Do We Care (04:00) – Wow vs Rift
  • Why Rift Struggled (11:45)
  • Impact of Paradox of Choice (14:28)
    • Option Paralysis
    • Postpone Decisions
    • Regret
  • Impact to Flow (17:30)
  • Rule of Thumb : 3 (19:50)
  • Simplification
  • Zen Spot – Permanence (24:00)
    • Opportunity Cost
    • Limited Impact

Game Design Zen is the intersection of game design, life, and the pursuit of excellence. It is the #1 resource for all things Game Design including the science, art, and business of developing better games. There is always room to level up.

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I've just listened to this first episode. I liked the content and presentation of the main dish, but the starter felt a bit too long. I haven't listened to the rest of the episodes yet, so I don't know if they're better on that issue. Anyway, it's an interesting podcast, which I'm planning to follow. Keep up the good work!

I have a question regarding choices. There's an audience for games with complex decisions, taking into account many factors. Let's say you want to create a RPG, where on each gained level the player can assign a number of points to a number of character attributes, this number being greater than 4, say 8 or 10. Is this a bad thing? If yes, how would you solve it, without limiting the player from choosing the attributes he wants?