E5. Integrate Learning with Gameplay

“The game teaches me new information as part of the gameplay, rather than making me go through a separate tutorial to learn how to play. I’m given the time and space I need to practice new skills without fear of failure, but I never feel that I’m being held back from the ‘real’ gameplay against my will.”

Early on in gameplay, players are demonstrated how to do a specific task, they are given a consequence free space to practice the task until they have enough self efficacy to complete the task successfully in more advanced gameplay.

Players are offered the chance of going through a tutorial within the game. The learning principles [see E4 for further information] ideally are accessed by staying in the game in order to learn, and incorporated into the gameplay. This allows for new players to learn as they go and for experienced players to quickly go through the tutorial in a game context (and perhaps learn about mechanics that they did not realize were available). Since tutorials are embedded in gameplay, they do not have serious consequences and are able to practice without fear of failing.

Examples (adhered):

  • Chronos: The game's tutorial is embedded in the gameplay. Players learn mechanics by interacting with the world and story. Also, there is an option to “disable hints” for more experienced players who do not want to see the tutorial screens. This allows all players equal access to information while providing a way to opt out if the player desires.
  • Batman Arkham VR: Early in the game, players find themselves in front of a piano. Alfred hands them a key, which they use to unlock the piano. When they press keys on the piano, they are brought down to the secret lair. This short sequence teaches players both how to grab items (the key) and interact with objects (the piano), while also advancing the game's plot and fleshing out the game's setting. The player is at first confused when he starts going downward, but then says “Oh wow, that is cool” when he realizes he is going to the secret lair.
  • I Expect You to Die: The tutorial allows the player to push through quickly, while still giving him a chance to experiment with the controls in the space. Players may spend as much time as they like in the tutorial space before they begin their first mission. This time to experiment is vital for new players to become comfortable with the game's controls, while the short length of the tutorial ensures that more experienced players are still able to speed through.

Examples (violated):

  • Robo Recall: Rather than integrated into the gameplay, the tutorial is very clearly presented as distinct from the main game. In the tutorial, a voice and images systematically describe every element of the gameplay (grabbing objects, shooting, scoring points, and so on) without providing context as to why the player is doing these things.