Games, in one form or another, have existed for almost as long as the human race and despite the fact that they are often reduced to being something for children they are in fact quite complex. When analysing games one must look at why they are engaging – what keeps us playing – and how they foster participation in the average user. By comparing and contrasting the characteristics of Activision’s Guitar Hero series and King’s Candy Crush Saga, it will become apparent that the former is more engaging while the latter is more effective in fostering participation in players.
Before one can begin to analyse games in terms of their engagement and participation qualities, a definition of what a game is and the characteristics that make them effective must be established. Koster defines games by saying they are, ‘iconic depictions of patterns in the world…games are puzzles to solve’ (2004, p. 34), indicating that games are simply non-threatening representations of reality designed to teach the player skills that they will first have to discover for themselves. According to Koster the skills games intend to teach are often, ‘things that we can absorb into the unconscious as opposed to things designed to be tackled by the conscious, logical mind’ (2004, P. 76) which is something that can be seen in both Guitar Hero and Candy Crush. On the surface, Guitar Hero is a game about being a rock star and playing music, but the way the game is played aims to improve hand-eye coordination