I HEART LocoRoco – a reading of a gameplay experience

Emma Westecott

Abstract


In the diverse landscape of modern gaming it is rare to find specific games that are universally described in affectionate terms. Allegiances to form and genre identify the various tribes and often the divide between gaming sub-cultures runs deep. Passionate players pride themselves both by the longevity of their status and via signifiers of skill acquired. These traits typify what has become known as the “hardcore” player; in popular gaming culture the hardcore is often positioned contra the “casual” player with hours and type of game played as the main criteria for qualification. However these terms are ludicrous at best and fall short in describing the multitude of people who play digital games. The following is focussed on one particular Sony PSP game franchise that has received widespread critical acclaim, LocoRoco. This is a 2D platform game initially released in Europe in Summer 2006 and although it has not gone platinum  this title got to No 5 in the UK Charts and has won 2 BAFTA’s for character design and children’s game in 2006. LocoRoco 2 was released in the U.K. in November 2008. Sony’s Tsutomu Kouno, the Director of LocoRoco, has stated that one of his design intentions was to make a game that appealed to those who didn’t normally play games (Kouno, 2006). This statement is key in my selection of this game. As a hugely lucrative yet nascent industry, it is of interest to study the ways in which commercial developers attempt to attract new players to part with their hard-earnt entertainment dollar. My investigation looks to explicate game design decisions that entice a player into dialogue with the ongoing game experience. I will look at issues including pleasure and seduction within the action and reward cycle inherent to gameplay.

Keywords


game design, gameplay, kinaesthetics, visual style

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