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Flow in Games

Flow is a concept given by author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It is a state when a person experiences deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with the work. In his book, , he teaches how to achieve a flow state while doing any work.

What is Flow?

When the skills of a person matches with the difficulty of a task, he achieves a flow state. It is state where the person fully involve in the task and nothing else seems to matter. It is the zone where he completely involves in the task. All popular game uses this concept to bring player in flow state. It brings players in a complete enjoyment zone.
If the level of skill doesn't match with the challenge, it brings anxiety or boredom.

How to implement Flow in a Game

There are four key components to bring player in a Flow State. In short, we will call it CNIC framework:

Clear Goals

Clear goals bring certainty in game. When goal is clear, player knows what to do without being distracted. In absence of clear goals, player feel uncertainty and his minds wander. And, player get distracted. So, it is important to define clear goals for a player.

No Distraction

Distraction reduces focus of a player. A game designer should work on minimizing the distraction in a game to bring focus and achieve Flow State.

Immediate Feedback

Immediate feedbacks give a player validation. It helps player to focus on next task and that leads player into a flow state.

Continuous Challenge

To keep a player in a flow state, it is important to increase the challenge level to match the improved skills of a player. If challenge is stagnant, a player will go in Boredom state and stop playing the game.

Case Study

It is a free to play casual game. You can join at least two dots to score a point. Let's analyze this game using our CNIC framework.

C: Clear Goals

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Objective is clearly defined. A player need to collect 50 purple, 50 red, 50 and 50 yellow dots.

N: No Distraction

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There is no distraction for player. He has one and only option.
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Only dots are colorful. Everything is in light color to avoid distraction.
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I : Immediate Feedback

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As a player matches the dots, the score updates. It gives a clear feedback to a player.

C: Continuous Challenge

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As a player completes one challenge, he moves to other challenge with a higher difficulty. It brings a player in Flow State
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