Consider movement's cognitive load

Guideline
Moving can demand a lot of mental attention, creating a high 'cognitive load', especially when learning new movements, so do not overload the player with too much feedback.

Details
Developing movement skill requires not only bodily, but also cognitive attention, with attention being a limited resource. Initially, players will need to focus on learning a new movement (so focus the feedback on this), while when getting better at the movement, they can devote more cognitive attention towards more complex and nuanced forms of feedback. For example, first time you try to to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time, you probably cannot do much else, but when you get better at it, you can probably do something else simultaneously, such as having a conversation.
Examples
  
 
 Dance Central 2 Ninja Shadow Warrior Pac-Manhattan
 Dance Central 2 provides multiple layers of feedback to players. Beginners can focus their limited attention on imitating the avatars. More advanced players can use the diagrams and score details to refine their moves.In Ninja Shadow Warrior players are ninjas that need to fill out object silhouettes together to hide from evil, by “becoming” objects. Figuring out the best positioning of multiple bodies takes a lot of attention, so the computer feedback is kept to a minimum (just an overlay of the players' video stream onto the shape they are attempting to fill). Pac-Manhattan is a large-scale urban game that utilises Manhattan's grid to recreate a game of Pac-Man. As players run around the grid, their cognitive attention is focused on moving, so wirelessly connected controllers take care of navigating them and most of the rules.

Strategies for Designers
  • Start by providing feedback on the movement itself, without too much worrying about scores, multipliers etc.
  • Provide several forms of feedback, but do not require players to engage with all of them: it is better to let players choose which ones to engage with based on their cognitive abilities, and shift their attention as their mastery grows.
DOs and DON'Ts
DO reduce cognitive complexity when moving: for example, if your player can usually remember 3 rules, as soon as she/he moves, she/he will only remember 1.
DON'T forget that once players learn new movements, they might need to re-learn old ones as they integrate these new skills.
Comments