Skim & Watch: MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

As I already mentioned in my introduction post, I’ve recently been enjoying Limbo, a mobile game centered around a young boy looking for his sister in a dark, atmospheric environment. The mechanics of the game are very simple: the user can use either one or two fingers to control the avatar who can make lateral or vertical movements based off of the dragging of the player’s finger(s) in the desired direction. The avatar advances through different side-scrolling levels, some of which include objects that can be interacted with, either through pushing (standard moving motion) or pulling (which involves a front and then back type of motion). Because of the extremely simple game mechanics, the player can immediately work towards mastery of the controls, which is tested throughout each level with increasing difficulty. As such, the player can focus fully on their ability to accurately interact with the game’s world through their avatar, both in terms of motor skills and puzzle logic. Through this dynamic, as created by the game’s mechanics, Limbo creates a sense of fun as driven by the following aesthetics: sensation, challenge, and narrative. As a highly aesthetically-driven game, the immediate accessibility of the world as created through its simple mechanics allows the player to more fully experience the haunting ambiance of the dimly-lit, eerily-scored world. In turn, the player more viscerally experiences the varying stages of the game which create the overarching narrative, which builds more rapidly as the protagonist gets closer to finding his sister. Finally, the game at its heart is fun because of the challenge it creates – each level presents new ways to use the game’s simple mechanics to solve spacial puzzles, which create a sense of achievement and progress tracking for skill-level.

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