Kind Games: Designing for Prosocial Multiplayer

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2023-03-17 19:00:04

Kind Games PDF Workgroup members Daniel Cook, JC Lau, May Ling Tan, Joel Burgess, Tomo Moriwaki, Erin Drake Kajioka Introduction

What if we proactively design our games to facilitate positive human relationships? We propose that games built on a foundation of kind aesthetics can deliver greater player satisfaction, greater long term engagement, and richer human experiences.

Internal studio research increasingly shows that social features facilitating friendship are highly predictive of long term retention in online games. Despite this, many games are based on single player or competitive gameplay and only add friendship-focused social features as an afterthought.1 

Let’s make kind games where players help one another in safe, supportive environments. We define kind games as multiplayer games designed from the start with systems that deliberately promote prosocial behavior. We observe this as an emerging design trend in hit multiplayer games like Sky: Children of Light, Sea of Thieves, Final Fantasy 14, Death Stranding and even distinctly uncozy games like Elden Ring. In this paper we hope to jumpstart the conversation by covering practical tools, constraints and real world examples. There’s a grand opportunity to design multiplayer prosocial games that bring out the best of humanity. 

These historical design practices have substantial weaknesses. Especially in our modern world where games have moved far beyond close knit LAN parties and now can involve populations larger than many countries. 

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