Making Sense of Video Game Stats

One of the many things I like about Gamestar Mechanic is how it guides young game designers to continually improve their games, even after publishing it to online spaces for an audience of gamers. The other day, I shared out my Fueling the Fuel Cell game that I made as a mentor text for my students. Since then, the number of players who have tried the challenge has gone up every day (thank you, if you tried my game. If you want to try it, follow this link into Gamestar to play Fueling the Fuel Cells). But how does a game designer know about the experiences of the players? Well, in a bid to answer that query, Gamestar Mechanic provides you with a handy “stats” page that shows how many people have started the game, how many finished the game, and how many made it the end of each level (if your game has multiple levels).

Here are the stats for my fuel cell game:
Fuel Cell game stats
You’ll notice that not too many folks got to the end of the game. That’s fine, although ideally, the middle funnel shape (shown in the guide to the left of the page) is what you are aiming for with your game. You don’t want everyone to win (too easy) nor do you want everyone abandoning the game (too hard). You want to find that sweet spot of true gamers sticking with you until the end.

When my students are coming back to revise games, after the first round of sharing, this is a page that I bring them to on their game. It’s funny how they interpret the data, though. Some are quite happy if no one can complete their game, as if it were a competition between them and their audience. Others can’t shift from a person who has spent hours creating a game and know every little square of the layout to imagine themselves as newbies to it, seeing the problems with the game from another angle. All of this is valuable for the iterative revision process of video game design, however.

Peace (in the game),
Kevin

PS — another game I created and share out is Women in Science.

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