Why Game Designers Should Study Magic

Shringi Kumari, Christoph Sebastian Deterding, Gustav Kuhn

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


For millennia, magicians have designed illusions that are perceived as real regardless of their impossibility, inducing a sense of wonder in their audience. This paper argues that video game designers face the same design challenge - crafting believable and engaging illusions - and that the practice of magic provides an untapped wealth of design principles and techniques for game designers. To support this claim, the paper introduces two key principles of magic, according perceived causal relations and forcing perceived- free choice. It then presents techniques to create and exploit these effects and discusses their parallels and applications in game design, encouraging game designers and researchers to further explore the field of magic for testable theories and applicable techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, FDG 2018
EditorsSebastian Deterding, Mitu Khandaker, Sebastian Risi, Jose Font, Steve Dahlskog, Christoph Salge, Carl Magnus Olsson
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-6571-0
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2018


  • Autonomy
  • Forcing
  • Game design
  • Games
  • Magic
  • Perceived causality

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