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The game “This is the Only Level” and the game “A Dance of Fire and Ice” are two separate approaches to portraying the MDA: Aesthetic of Challenge through iteration. “This is the Only Level” chooses to focus on a single level layout and contextual clues to tutorialize the player and smooth out the difficulty curve as it changes the fundamental mechanics with every stage. “A Dance of Fire and Ice” instead chooses to rely upon a few explicitly tutorialized mechanics and instead changes the layout of the stages to a carefully curated set so as to introduce and maitain a balanced dificulty curve. Both of these games are able to foster an appreciation for their challenge by using iteration to lay down a solid foundation for them to build upon. Had “This is the Only Level” changed the level with each stage, then there would have been too many things vying for the player’s attention and it would discourage the players rather than challenge them. This is also true for “A Dance of Fire and Ice” where had it swapped out its spiral mechanic for a WASD control scheme or something more esoteric, on a per level basis, then it would have been too confusing and frustrating for the players to appreciate the challenge presented to them.

For “Jurassic Heart” I both watched my partner (Nicole) play the game and was watched by my partner. While I was watching my partner play the game I was not only observing the game, but also how she interacted with the game. As this is a Dating Sim type game there is an inherent Role Play aspect to the game, and thus I found myself constructing a narative of what type of playthrough she was conducting. When her Playthrough then shortly ended in the “Terrible End” it was surprising, but not unexpected. During my playthrough I save scummed the heck out of it and chose different options entirely than my partner. While there had been vicarious joy through waatching my partner play, in the end it was not my character that was dating a T-rex in my partners playthrough; however, with my playthrough it was no longer predominantly following the MDA: Aesthetic of Discovery and instead had switched over to the MDA: Aesthetic of Challenge. This is due to it being me who is both ultimately and directly responsible for the outcome of the game, rather than a backseat driver or audience member who is bound by the whims of the person actually playing as when I was observing.


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