BLDG-25 has a passionate team that helps solve real problems with innovative solutions through decades of expertise with UX design and behavioral heuristics. To keep our wits and skills sharp, we’re constantly looking at sources for new ideas and new ways to solve business problems. That being said, our team is primarily comprised of gamers. Here’s what a few of us have been playing this fall and what we’ve learned from these games:
Bob Pfister, Principal Developer: Sudoku
Currently my outlet is Sudoku. I’ve been similarly “addicted” to Freecell and Minesweeper in the past. There are some things I’ve learned, and come to accept about the time I’ve “wasted” on these. First, there is some value to simple distraction. After being jostled about by the world all day, it is sometimes nice just to check out for a while, and let my mind be absorbed by a simple game. I’m distracted, but also somehow thinking about the things that I’m distracted from at the same time. Maybe the analytical part of my brain is absorbed in the game, while another more creative, free associating part of my brain wanders. That seems to be a good thing.
Second, I probably wouldn’t be as absorbed if there wasn’t some scoring. In Minesweeper, I’m trying to beat my best time. In Freecell, I’m trying to solve more games in a row. In Sudoku, it’s best times again, but it adds in my average time. I probably wouldn’t keep playing if there weren’t some goal, even if a somewhat arbitrary one.
Kyle Cyree, UX Design Director: Two Dots (Mobile)
I started playing two mobile games that I think are exceptionally well made and fun. If you like puzzle/strategy games, check out Two Dots and Dots & Co by the same developer. The eponymous Dots is an MVP and isn’t as good. I love the colors (cohesive, varied, feels very Sausalito), the difficulty changes, the progression, and I especially like the “companions” feature of Dots & Co. I do not love the freemium baiting, annoying modals every time you log in, and the side-games/challenges which are too difficult for my skill level and don’t clearly relate to the game. I am lukewarm toward the Facebook integration, some of the touch/drag controls on my iPad Pro are lackluster, and the randomization of some levels means it’s impossible to win unless you get lucky. Overall, I give it 4/5 stars and think it’s one of the better mobile games I’ve played.
Tom Esposito, Senior Developer: Overwatch (PC)
Overwatch is definitely a strong demonstration for the need for teamwork to be incorporated in a game. It can be a very stressful game. If a single person on the team isn’t doing their role well, it can be impossible. It’s interesting that way because it’s over balanced – in my experience, maybe the most balanced game there is on the market. But that means it’s very hard to compensate for one player on your team (out of six) who isn’t as good. It’s the only game I’ve ever played where being down a single teammate (due to a computer crash, being distracted by something IRL, etc.) makes the game unwinnable. In competitive mode, a player can leave and then the rest of the match it’s 5v6 and beyond impossible to put up a fight. Teamwork – and being actively present and there for your teammates – is critical.
Megan Carriker, Marketing Director: Oxygen Not Included (PC)
Oxygen Not Included, by Klei Entertainment, is similar to their first hit Don’t Starve (Together) in that there’s a very fine line between an enjoyable game and a stressful nightmare situation. Some players thrive on that and much like a salesperson has to navigate what motivates a prospective lead, some games on the market cater to different motivations. My husband regularly plays games that I would view as endlessly frustrating like Dark Souls, Monster Hunter, Bloodborne and others. The ones that reward a player for chipping away at a boss for 15-20 minutes at a time and then might kill you instantly with one move – but that incites the player to keep trying/try harder. Or give up.
Oxygen Not Included is a more manageable approach on that for me and it’s all around systems building. And keeping people happy while recognizing different people (your duplicants) have different preferences for different skills. It’s definitely like some basic leadership 101 training in a video game and it’s been a blast.