Game design: The five stages of choice made by every player

If you have played a game before, you’d be familiar with the situation of “choice making” and the five stages of choice. The process of deciding on a certain choice instead of another can depend on a specific series of factors but, it can be summed up into five stages. Those five stages are events that occur every time the player has to make a choice inside your game. Therefore, it’s better to know more about what happens inside the mind of the player every time an action occurs.

The five stages are the following:

  1. What happened before the player was given the choice?
  2. How is the possibility of choice conveyed to the player?
  3. How did the player make the choice?
  4. What is the result of the choice? How will it affect future choices?
  5. How is the result of the choice conveyed to the player?

What happened before the player was given the choice?

We can see this question also as: “How is the state of the player before the player was given the choice?”. For example: “What is the current state of the player’s health?”, “What is the current state of pieces on a game board?” etc

This question can help us to understand the context of a decision made by the player and the series of events/choices that the player made in the past.

 

How is the possibility of choice conveyed to the player?

How do we communicate the possibility of a choice to the player? If we’re on a game board, this can be the presence of an empty square. In a digital game, they are usually conveyed by controls. The tutorial is a great way to make the player aware of the possible choices to make inside the game, and it is very important to make the player aware of such choices.

 

How Did the player make the choice?

Did the player make that choice by pressing a button, playing a card, moving a mouse, or jumping from the chair? It is important that the player is aware of the ways to make that choice. If the player doesn’t know that a specific button can trigger a specific event, then he won’t be able to make that choice at all.

 

What is the result of the choice? How will it affect future choices?

A player that takes an action inside a system will affect that system. This can usually be used by the player to take advantage of the situation and move on in the game. Sometimes the choice can create to problems for the player and so he will be aware to not trigger that specific action. For example, the outcome of taking and hitting in blackjack impacts whether or not the player wants to take another hit, as well as the outcome of the game.

 

How is the result of the choice conveyed to the player?

If the player places a piece of a c4 on a wall and presses the fire button, as a normal result he can expect to see an explosion. If, however, the player shoots an NPC, he expects that NPC to die. If you play twister, the physical positions of bodies in spaces convey the result of choices.

 

Conclusion:

It is helpful to observe and evaluate the 5 stages of choices during the development phase. As a game developer, this will help you understand what the common choices made by the player are.

You can also determine why the player has made that choice. It is important to make the player aware of the consequence of a choice and for you to understand why he made that specific choice.

The choice must always be clear to the player. The player must always know what to do next and if something happens during the game, he should be always aware of why that specific event occurred.

There is nothing more frustrating than doing something without knowing why, for example.

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