By the same authors

Learning curves: analysing pace and challenge in four successful puzzle games

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


  • Conor Linehan
  • George Bellord
  • Ben Kirman
  • Zachary H. Morford
  • Bryan Roche


Publication details

Title of host publicationACM SIGCHI Symposium on Play in Computer Human Interaction
DatePublished - 1 Oct 2014
Number of pages10
Original languageEnglish


The pace at which challenges are introduced in a game has long been identified as a key determinant of both the enjoyment and difficulty experienced by game players, and their ability to learn from game play. In order to understand how to best pace challenges in games, there is great value in analysing games already demonstrated as highly engaging. Play-through videos of four puzzle games (Portal, Portal 2 Co-operative mode, Braid and Lemmings), were observed and analysed using metrics derived from a behavioural psychology understanding of how people solve problems. Findings suggest that; 1) the main skills learned in each game are introduced separately, 2) through simple puzzles that require only basic performance of that skill, 3) the player has the opportunity to practice and integrate that skill with previously learned skills, and 4) puzzles increase in complexity until the next new skill is introduced. These data provide practical guidance for designers, support contemporary thinking on the design of learning structures in games, and suggest future directions for empirical research.

Bibliographical note

Presented at CHI Play 2014 : the first ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, Toronto, Canada 19-22 October 2014

    Research areas

  • ARRAY(0x7f06618ec050)

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