Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

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Mario Kart 64- Game Theory


Mario Kart 64 is a racing game developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 console as the latest addition to iconic character Mario’s list of games. The game is multiplayer compatible so you can play with your friends on your Nintendo 64 console if you had extra controllers through split-screen. You could play as 8 playable characters from previous Mario games Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Wario and Donkey Kong.


Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s theory of flow applies to Mario Kart 64 through racing, when you race you want to win to be first place in every race is the main target for any gamer. To finish 2nd or 3rd and be presented on a podium with a silver or bronze is only a downgrade from what you really wanted that ultimate racer 1st place. To race in the game it requires you to drive around 1 of 16 circuit tracks which have obstacles, corners and pick ups (weapons or power ups), you have to be focused on the game to overcome any challenges you are presented with whilst on the track. Personally for me to achieve flow in mario kart whilst racing against 3 other students we was on Rainbow road the hardest track on the game with opportunities to fall off the track and lose position on nearly every corner, control of your kart is difficult and needs high skill for the challenge. This is to be repeated for 3 laps whilst other players fire shells at you leave banana’s on the track and so on, winning this race was a proud moment for me i felt in flow throughout the race and nothing was going to get in my way of my 1st place goal.


To link to the diagram for Mario Kart when you are losing or keep getting hit by everything coming near you, it loses your want to play the game you enter apathy as you feel rubbish at the game but dont feel you should be in the position you are so its not like the game is hard. Or you could be racing against people in your group claiming to be mario kart 64 professionals on the hardest track and beat them to win the race entering flow throughout (that was me against Barrie).

Categories of Play:

For Roger Caillois’s ‘categories of play’ Mario Kart 64 would fall under primarily ‘Agon’. Agon is games of competition, with Mario Kart 64 you are playing to win the race or beat your best times. The added feature of muliplayer interactivity in this game adds to the competition as you want to beat your friends. There are in game cups to add to the competition as you want to win the championships in your kart to prove you are the best racer by completing the game.

It also falls under ‘Alea’. Alea is games of chance, with Mario Kart 64 chance is a big part. One corner a banana may have been left but you serve round it to see a red shell coming for you (homing missile) but it hits the banana, this is one of many examples first place may get hit by a blue shell (homing missile just for 1st place) before the finish line and you take the lead.

Mimicry also applies as Mario is a fantasy character and you race in Mario’s fantasy world and settings which the circuits are based on, you play as the avatar you select in the race to experience this fantasy world.

Bartle Test:

To link this into Bartle’s test which defines you as a player through a series of questions this type of game being puzzle based and score based would appeal more to an ‘achiever’ style of player rather than the others due to the achiever always wants to win. You always want to win the race or the championship either against the computer or your friends so achieving that is your aim.

‘Socialiser’ also applies when muliplayer gameplay comes into it as you are racing with your friends or family around the circuits, this can be an enjoyable experience which can also cause bonding or the opposite as you hit your Dad with that red shell on the final corner to the take the win and he storms off as “you didn’t deserve it”.

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Pac-Man-Game Theory


Pac-man is an arcade game that was developed by Namco and released in 1980. Pac-man is a little yellow circle with a segment missing (mouth) which believe it or not was a design from a pizza with a slice taken out. Pac-man runs around a maze to pick up as many of the dots as possible whilst avoiding the ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde). If you get caught by any of them pac-man dies and you lose a life, once all your lives are gone the game is over and your score from how many dots you collected is revealed.


Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s theory of flow applies to pac-man as the arcade game requires the player to deal with collecting dots whilst navigating around the maze quickly or intelligently to avoid the enemies, If you eat a big dot you can then eat an enemy but only for a limited amount of time as they return to the ghost enclosure to come back to get you again. The aim is to collect all the dots and gain as many points as possible, the difficulty is the same but you can get yourself into difficult situations where the ghosts are closing in on you and your reactions really have to be sharp to get away otherwise its a life lost. I achieved flow in pac-man due to playing against class students to try get the highest score possible so I was really focusing on every move made and how I can get to the next set of dots without being caught.


Using Csikzentmihalyi’s flow diagram Pac-man can fall into any of them categories it depends how addicted and immersed you in the game. Some cases of flow when Pac-man was released were quite extreme, in the documentary “Thumb Candy” they meet the makers of Pac-man to discuss the popularity of the game 24minutes into the video is the section on Pac-man. 28 minutes in they mention it made “60 billion yen, so roughly 60 million dollars…in one year” for Namco.

Categories of Play:

For Roger Caillois’s ‘categories of play’ Pac-man would fall under primarily ‘Agon’. Agon is games of competition, with Pac-man you are playing to achieve as much points as possible which will require you to survive longer and gain a high score. The replayability to make this a competition with others includes leader boards and also trying to beat your own personal best. An example of Agon would be when we was asked to play free online PC games to later analyse through game theory and in teams of 4 we was to also play against each other for score then rank through score before moving onto the next game.

It also falls under ‘Alea’. Alea is games of chance, with Pac-man the movement of the enemy that the game presents you with is that chance, you could be pinned in a corner by the enemies but somehow manage to escape the navigate randomly but primarily try to chase you but if not they patrol the maze. So chance has a part to play with the enemy, some would say skill is a large part of avoiding them but sometimes you just need that bit of luck to reach the big dot in time before they catch you and eat them all to give you space to continue.

Bartle Test:

To link this into Bartle’s test which defines you as a player through a series of questions this type of game being puzzle based and score based would appeal to an ‘achiever’ style of player due to the points system and the survival aspect.

But it also links to the “Killer” category as Pac-man is a predator, he eats all the dots and if a big dot is activated can eat his enemies which rewards you with bonus score. Therefore it does have killer aspects to the gameplay and rewards.

Socialiser can also link in as when Pac-man was a hugely popular arcade game people would go down to the arcade to play with or against each other, at the end a leaderboard would reveal and you could enter your initials so you was constantly competing with others if you should so choose to treat it that way.

My personal playing of pac-man was that I was either really good at it or just rubbish, when I doing well I enjoyed the game alot and wanted to play more but when i was doing badly it just frustrated me and i wanted to move onto another game. Emotional reactions to the game shows this game has a psychological effect on the player through performance. This is arguable present in all games but this proves the game could be critically analysed using psychoanalysis as a perspective.

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History of Gaming- Iconic Games Timeline Survey Results

Previously (blog 1, blog 2, blog 3) for my history of gaming work i had been given the topic of “Icons of gaming” as my research focus to then formulate into a adobe flash timeline using my results. Icons of Gaming could we interpreted many ways it could be mascots, iconic games, iconic characters, iconic designers and so on so i had to narrow it down to get a real focus on my work which i chose iconic games throughout the generations. The choice of the generations you give my timeline alot of range to it so its not neglecting a generation of gaming by just saying ionic games from 5th gen onwards.

Obviously i had a few games in mind such as mario, sonic and space invaders but my own personal preferences may be included in this timeline which would result in a bias and personal timeline. To navigate away from this problem i decided to set up a survey and asked a group of my friends and peers to answer the questions i had set using a tick box choice and if i had missed a game they believed was iconic there was a “other” box to type in an answer. like this:question

This worked very well i got a wide range of results which ultimately show how different people have different tastes in games not everyone was all for the same ones. This was followed up at the end by a comments box which i asked them to type a little bit about there most iconic game to them and why, some great responses also came from this. i will now make some infographics of the data i collected and then show the personal comments in relation to them. I had 49 responses to my survey shame it wasnt 50 for a nice found figure but 49 was excellent.iKGG6VYaNu720B7d

This was the first question in relation to the 1st generation, pong came out the winner with 30 votes and space war! behind with 21 votes. Feedback i got for this one was that some people didnt even know what these games were and did tend to pick randomly. the specified other got 2 responses one of asteroids which was a 1st gen game made by atari in 1979 so was a educated response that others may have forgot including myself, but the second response was crash bandicoot with is a 5th generation game so didnt belong there being a wasted vote.

QZ7cZxwcdjJTFodQThe second question was related to 2nd generation games, 1st with 33 was unsurprisingly pacman closely followed by spaceinvaders at 26 votes another very iconic game. This was how i expected these results to come out.ROxYUr44K4cjTsvEThis being 3rd generation was bound to be debatable as personally im not a big player of zelda and never was being born in 1995 i never really got into the later installments of zelda which could be the case for some people i asked aswell. 1st was super mario bros with 33, with tetris 2nd at 25 then zelda 3rd at 15. Despite these results i know zelda is an iconic game and i did expect it to be very close with mario. between the other results it was fairly close but street fighter took 3rd with 17. no other for this section aswell which make me think i chose well.

ZPfXAmJYCeAlyCEy4th generation, sonic was the obvious winner for me and others with 30votes but others didnt do so well and fifa footballs first installment was 2nd with 20votes. When i viewed the other responses i realised i had missed a big game and a personal favourite of mine the Prince of Persia games maybe the results would have been different as it only got 2 votes from people who noticed but i dont think prince of persia is as iconic as other games so wasnt a fatal miss.

21zCNdvd06k0g0nH5th generation was bound to be a debatable one with so many good games in there and dependent on when you were born this could be very different for you, i personally was born in 5th gen 1993-2001 being 1995 and my favourite game of all time is crash bandicoot close second with spyro so childhood hours and hours of gaming played a factor there. Pokemon was 1st with 31 votes, 2nd spyro with 28, 3rd grand theft auto with 27, 4th crash bandicoot on 21 with rayman close behind in 5th at 19 votes. As you can see this was very debatable and had alot of different views on it see i like oddworld but only 5 thought the same as others opted differently with there 6 choices. Not quite how i expected but gaming icons are up there so thats pleasing. the other section included a game i cant believe i forgot to include which is an iconic game definately for feminism of Tomb Raider.

Z3PMpLP8b6rTVadL6th generation was a tough one with clear favourites of Call of Duty on 35votes, 2nd halo with 28 and 3rd ratchet and clank with 18. this one wasnt as close at the top but the bottom people were undecided as nothing really jumped out for them clearly showing these games are not seen as a big deal to them but i cant forget this group is only a handful of people if this was worldwide id have a much fairer test and wider view which im sure world of warcraft being a huge mmorpg would be alot higher. The other box was Tony Hawk with his skateboarding games which im afraid whoever that was doesnt really cut it good games id say yes but not iconic.

XYhnRUrZlbtWwqDjFinally was 7th generation, with this one i felt i had to include alot wider range of games as currently the gaming market is everywhere and games i could really play like angry birds as my phone isnt brilliant are massively popular so the recent rise in apps and mobile gaming had to be considered here but it was hard as being so recent can you list it as immediately iconic well i believe so with assassins creed series being fantastic and educational in a sense. Assassins Creed was 1st with a clear 31 votes, 2nd was GTA V i know i had grand theft auto before as orignal 5th gen release but gta v has broke alot of records so i felt it needed to be included with 25 votes, then it was close 3rd skyrim again i had elder scrolls in 5th gen which didnt do so well but is 3rd here so you can see games over the ages in some cases in series have improved in view of the public with 19, then 3rd killzone with 18 being a playstation exclusive i was surprised it was so high, 4th The Last of Us a massive recent success and surely a iconic game if any for recent times but being so recent and playstation exclusive with 14 votes, then 5th was angry birds a mobile game with 12 votes. so a wide range of views there. the other option was labelled Rome:Total War a strategy pc game which is a very good game to be fair but im not sure its iconic but will be some personal favourites which also started in 5th generation but has a recent installement in 7th so its valid.

That concluded my results most popular being: Pong, pacman, mario, sonic, pokemon, call of duty, assassins creed in each generation. Being a debatable one i will now have to decide which should be considered iconic despite my results as some where missed or not everyones favourite who did the survey but are to the gaming community.

As for the most iconic games personal choice comments box here are the responses:

  • Killzone Shadow Fall: i recently bought myself a PlayStation 4 and if you can call any game a “next gen game” it is definately killzone, not only a visually amazing game but it also uses the majority of the ps4 new features such as the touch pad is your drone. love it.
  • Killzone, recently played on ps4 Killzone: Shadow Fall most impressive visually and gameplay shooter I have ever owned.
  • I think PAC man has to be the most iconic game of all time down to sheer popularity, fun and status, I’d say it’s a legendary and iconic game
  • Favourite Game: Pokémon Yellow The amount of time I spent on that game trying to complete the pokedex and level all my pokemon to maximum was that of a large number. The personal connection I made with my starter pokemon is a connection im yet to make with any other game other than pokemon.
  • Tomb Raider is Bossssssss!!!!!!!!
  • Pokemon just coz pokemon
  • Fifa
  • Crash Tag team Racing, due to that me and my friends used to have a great laugh playing it and beating each other with different characters like cortex and crash.
  • kid chameleon for sega mega drive amazing gameplay and loved the multiple abilities and level design
  • Prince of Persia!!!
  • Dead Space, personally for me it was the first horror style game i ever played in depth. Even though it scared the hell out of me i was gripped to the game and the story line.
  • Fifa – Pro clubs so u can shout at your friends when they miss a sweaty goal (Nathan)
  • GTA SANANDREAS, becaues it was my favourite game growing up and I still play it now
  • Total War from Shogun through to Rome 2. Well researched and immersive experience. Balanced mix of strategy and real time action. A bit let down by Rome 2 though. I think it crosses over your generations starts in about 5th I reckon.
  • Pokémon Red – It’s just brilliant okay
  • Dragonage: origins
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time. The game is just a landmark in gaming terms, it is possibly the most popular game to date and continues to be a benchmark against which other games of the same genre are measured. For me it was just such an intense adventure with a well driven story, strong characters, interesting game play and a really cool open world to explore. You could dip into and out of quests and missions as and when you wanted and even though there were points when you had to complete something to progress with the story, for the most part it was left up to the player in which order they completed their quests, which is something that has only recently been seen in other games such as Skyrim and even Fable.
  • Halo 2 as it was the game I bonded with some of my old friends the most
  • need for speed underground 2 because like racing and customizing car
  • SPYRO- Really fun game
  • Difficult one, but personally my all time favourite game has to be between Star Wars Battlefront, and Star Wars Battlefront 2. They were just amazing
  • GTA V , I love the murder violence, robberies and gang rape.
  • Oddworld, it was such a good game series.
  • Streets of Rage Though it’s design is simple, there is something magical about moving through neon lit backdrops in fictional cities and beating up a series of identical looking bad guys under the strange premise of “Justice”. The Characters are colourful and in a way it was one of the first games that allowed you to play the vigilante minus the skin tight outfit… except for Axels jeans, they are proper tight, but it’s like the late 80’s or whatever so fair enough. I wish we could see more games in this vain, the next one released on the next console was Fighting Force, which was renamed from Streets of Rage because the company disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The only one I can think of next is the remake of Final Fight: Streetwise… that was pretty terrible. I guess everyone else is sticking to 1 on 1 fighters or mass slaughterfests that is Dynasty Warriors and there ilk.
  • I think my favourite game has to be mass effect 3, mostly because you can make so many different decisions and they all effect the way the game plays out.
  • Pokemon, because no matter how much the evolution happens with the franchise millions of people still remember and love the original
  • Assassins creed something different and its enjoyable
  • Just dance 3. its awesome.
  • Spyro as I grew up playing it.
  • Call of Duty, most players.
  • GTA because it has so many missions, levels, so much to do and explore and has very good graphics.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – First 3D Legend of Zelda game, ability to explore the world, groundbreaking graphics, classic story.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time because the graphics and gameplay were far beyond any other game of that generation and it’s a timeless game that is still better than other games in thay genre.
  • Gears of war due to it being a primary building block in me and my best friends relationship

Thing i can take from this although zelda didnt do aswell as expect its regarded some peoples most iconic game with the Ocarina of Time game in the series

“Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time. The game is just a landmark in gaming terms, it is possibly the most popular game to date and continues to be a benchmark against which other games of the same genre are measured. For me it was just such an intense adventure with a well driven story, strong characters, interesting game play and a really cool open world to explore. You could dip into and out of quests and missions as and when you wanted and even though there were points when you had to complete something to progress with the story, for the most part it was left up to the player in which order they completed their quests, which is something that has only recently been seen in other games such as Skyrim and even Fable.”

That says alot for the game itself, i know its an iconic game already but this is a brilliant comment on exactly why. i also noticed the need for speed games mentioned which for racing games is definately iconic its just not in the overall picture gran turismo would probably take that if any.

Id like to thank everyone for there involvement in the survey as its been very useful to my studies in this topic area. i will now go onto make my flash timeline using my results i have found here and other gathered research that i initially had for iconic games.


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Idea- Iconic Games Flash Timeline

The idea for the timeline is to have a levelled system to it, like a mini game.

So you roll the ball on a 2d side-scroller and when you roll on a panel it reveals e.g. Sonic and small info on why its iconic.

You reach the end of the generation and move to the next level which is the next gen and so on.

Whilst in the level you can choose to revert back or roll back to re-read information.

To have this as a solid idea to pursue i will have to do multiple checks on how this will be coded in action script 3. Amongst gathering the information and research from my survey which i am currently unable to attain as it requires money to unlock but i will sort that out soon. So a clear understanding on where i am going in this topic is now with me so i can really knuckle down into coding it.


Free Online Surveys- Iconic Games

Free Online Surveys.

This link leads directly to my survey on iconic games my module topic, I chose to do a survey on this as iconic games are a much debated topic and everyone has their own opinion so by doing a survey my research is less biased and has a wider range of opinions.


Introduction to Games Design- Research Topic Focus

I have been given a brief for our module of an interactive presentation timeline of the history of gaming. After given this we was shown a video called Thumb Candy- The History of Computer Games. Iain Lee is the presenter who takes us through the history of gaming from the first Space wars! in 1961 to the year of 2000 with Tekken Tag Tournament. Since then there have been many iconic games and consoles but this video was brilliant use to us for research in our brief as it covered a huge range of the gaming industries history. So what I wanted to do from that was do similar to this but bring it up to date as recent games such as Halo and Assassins Creed have to go down as iconic games.

This video did focus much on the companies in gaming and the alteration between who was the top from Atari to Nintendo. My focus of research that I picked out of a hat was “Icons of Gaming”, this topic I was very pleased with as I could do a wide range of topics from characters to designers and everything in-between in the gaming industry.  So I could have centralised Thumb Candy as my pure research and guideline, but I wanted to focus my research and gather it myself so I felt more engaged with the topic. Due to this I decided to choose “Iconic Games”. Once choosing this I did realise that in my research that this is a very debated topic as everyone has their own tastes, for example my preference is to games I grew up playing such as Spyro, Crash bandicoot and Pokémon whereas I am not a fan of Zelda but I wont neglect that it is a huge game because of my own personal views. Due to this being a debated topic it will take my extensive research and maybe even a survey for people to enter to give their own preferences to find my iconic games.


My idea for my interactive presentation even before my research has been gathered was to have a levelled game which did iconic games through the generations of gaming right up until the 7th generation, I decided the 8th generation was to be excluded as its not yet to come out although it is soon I think a clearer research will be determined if I focused on 1st-7th generation of gaming. So with the time period settled I drew up a plan for my levelled game with some ideas for which games would fit in. The idea would be as you take the ball or the character into a item it would bring up information on the screen then you can go back and forth to re-read certain parts or enter the final ball to start the next level which would be the next generation.