Paper: Hyper-Ludicity, Contra-Ludicity, and the Digital Game

Hyper-Ludicity, Contra-Ludicity, and the Digital Game
Steven Conway [2010]

This paper focuses on the difference between ludicity, contra-ludicity and hyper-ludicity in different generes of videogames.

Ludicity is the degree to which digital games allow play (the possibility to act or have an effect upon the gameworld). When ludicity is heightened or lowered, hyper-ludicity and contra-ludicity can be created and they play an importat role in making a game FUN.

Hyper-ludicity involves granting the player with superior strength or abilites that break the rules of the game, which is usually accompanied by visual effects and audio-cues that clearly identify the start of a hyper-ludicity state. Examples of this can be obtaining the Star item in Super Mario Bros., the 'gamebreaker' mode in FIFA Street, performing a 'Final Smash' in Super Smash Bros. Brawl or eating a 'Power Pellet' in Pac-Man.

Contra-ludicity involves making the game experience harder by taking away some abilities from the player, increasing the number or strength of the enemies or limiting the possible options a player has. Examples of this can be the increasing speed of falling tetrominoes in Tetris, the lack of items/strength/abilities in the beginning of an RPG game or the increasing waves of enemies in Gears of War's 'Horde' mode.

A good example of a game that utilizes hyper-ludicity and contra-ludicity to create an amazing gaming experience is Goldeneye 007 with it's 'The Man With The Golden Gun' mode. In this mode, one of the players is lucky enough to acquire the Golden Gun, which can one-hit-kill other players. This places the holder of the golden gun in a hyper-ludic state which gives that player the pleasure of overpowering everyone else while the other players enter a contra-ludic state which forces them to team up to take down the golden gun holder, which also functions as a 'social lubricant'. The quick changes in ludicity makes this game mode interesting and a great example of ludicity balancing.

The most important thing to note when designing a game with hyper-ludicity and contra-ludicity in mind, is to be careful of having a good balance between them. Too much hyper-ludicity and the game will become stale and boring, too much contra-ludicity and the game will become frustrating and annoying.

Conway, S. (2010). Hyper-Ludicity, Contra-Ludicity, and the Digital Game. Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture, 135-147.

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