• Epticx

Winning & Losing

Winning and losing was one of my beginning fields of research, initially I was interested in it because I wanted to look at the moral perspective of what makes for a win or lose and how was is one willing to go to get to the former however after deciding on two other morality based avenues of research I re-directed this down the route of what makes for an environment that facilitates a win or loss, in other words; a competitive space. This interests me as I would consider myself quite a competitive person having spent a lot of my life competing in sports and esports events, I find the thrill of competitive environments like no other and I wanted to know more about it. The environment seems very fine tuned with clear outcomes and then layers of detail and mechanics can be be added. This builds for a simple base experience with fine details making the game competitively viable, for example, the concept of Call of Duty is very simple, shoot, kill enemy opponents and fulfill the objective. While this is still the case, the nuances of the game include different guns doing different damage, range based damage drop off (further away does less damage) and such things as predicting enemy positions and spawns by the way of three lane map design. My script from my phase one presentation:

What interests me about winning and losing?


One of my starting points is winning and losing, what I was primarily interested is the connotations that winning and losing have, I think we usually attribute success with winning and failure with loosing. I think we deal with winning and losing on a daily basis, be that running out of milk or just this once, cooking a pizza without cremating it; josh.

I read an interesting post written by a DR. Kenneth Barish about children and how winning and losing and how important winning and losing is. It is almost essential to establishing a basis for emotions and feelings like pride, and euphoria, as well as the feeling of failure and shame; very emotive elements towards driving us to success. This leads us to think that perhaps wanting to win over failing is a more deeply ingrained feeling that getting a little competitive when you play a heated game of monopoly.


This led me into the direction of what makes for a competitive environment. Most of the research is based around board games and video games. The elements that make up competitive games are vast and require a great deal of balancing. I’ve attempted to discern a few. Naturally the game needs more than one player or the player to verse a force of some kind, perhaps the game itself. Usually there’s a skill element and many games make use of a luck based mechanic. These can be subtly combined to create a competitive nature that can’t be fully predicted and thus requires experience and more skill to close the gap. Let us take Fortnite for an example everybody’s favourite game. If we take all situational advantages out of the equation, the game comes down to two elements, luck and skill, luck comes in the form of item loot and gun bloom (Bloom being the RNG chance of bullets missing when fired in succession) and the skill being accuracy and building capability. However we could take a game like Chess that’s all about strategy, calculated moves under pressure with no luck in the equation at all and we have a very different competitive game. All we have is in common is players working against each other to try and come out on top, in almost all cases; one comes away a winner and one a loser.


I read a good Gameasutra article about Super Mario 3D world adding a competitive element into co-operative by adding a shiny crown that only one of up to 4 players can win. To make the game more enjoyable for players, not only are they working together but there’s a small rivalry that adds a new dimension to the game that works towards bridging the skill gap between good and bad players. There are many other elements that make up competitive environments from learning curves to metagame changes but I just wanted to make an example of what facilitates a win and a loss.


things I like about winning and losing: Could make for an exciting and fun game that it suited to multiple players


Things I dislike: Competitive elements don’t appeal to everyone and the balancing of the game would have to be very careful to make a fair experience.