If you pro­vide novice prob­lem-solvers with a prob­lem, they’ll attempt to solve it using super­fi­cial strate­gies, com­par­ing it to rou­tine prob­lems that they already under­stand. This much I have cov­ered already. But if you pro­vide novice prob­lem-solvers with — instead of a prob­lem — a set of con­straints, and then ask them to form and solve their own com­plex prob­lems, some­thing amaz­ing hap­pens — they solve these prob­lems with expert-lev­el strategies.

It’s the dif­fer­ence between teach­ing some­one to fish, and hav­ing them invent things to do around a pond with a hook line and stick.

The strat­e­gy Gage described here for help­ing play­ers learn games is as genius as it seems obvi­ous in hind sight.

The big thing for me is that if you want to add this to your game it needs to be suf­fi­cient­ly com­plex to begin with for sand­box to be inter­est­ing. Which is a great lit­mus test for if your game is good in the first place.

(via Design­ing For Prob­lem Solvers — Zach Gage, Nov 2014)

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.