A game made just for you

Do video games learn what a gamer likes as they play, then tailor the rest of the game experience accordingly?

Say I’m playing a game where every so often, I can pick up guns from the floor. I always pick up uzis, because I have a particular penchant for cutting zombies in half with a spray of automatic fire. But I ignore other guns. Are there ways that the game could notice my fetish for particular weaponry and provide a liberal scattering of uzis next time I play?

I don’t know whether this kind of personalisation is standard practice yet; if anyone knows more about it I’d be interested to hear. Anecdotally, a friend that makes driving games told me that some games do use dynamic difficulty balancing. If you’re being useless at Mario Kart, for example, a rocket will shoot up your arse and boost you towards the cars ahead. If you’re doing really well in some games, you might suddenly get more obstacles thrown your way.

This throws up some interesting questions about fairness and satisfaction. If I’m beating someone at Mario Kart because I’ve invested hours mastering it, why should they be given a leg up? As a beginner, do I really want a leg up? It must be difficult for game designers to get right.

Of course, difficulty is just one way of personalising a game experience. Giving the uzi fan more of what they appear to like is another. I’m repeatedly in awe of the complexities involved in game design and would encourage any interaction designer to read about it.

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