Should videogame difficulty automatically scale to the level of the player? That’s what Julian Togelius and Georgios Yannakakis (I caught Yannakakis from a mosquito in Thailand once) from the IT University of Copenhagen believe. According to New Scientist, the pair conducted an adaptive-gaming experiment using Super Mario Bros.
For those who fret that their hard-earned money might be wasted on a dud computer game, help could soon be at hand. A new breed of game aims to suit everyone by adapting to an individual’s playing style.
To investigate the idea, the researchers altered the game Super Mario Bros, varying parameters such as the number and type of enemies and the size of gaps between platforms in response to how the players fared. The game also records a player’s moves, including how often they run and jump, and the time spent standing still.
Selectable difficulty levels have been common since gaming’s earliest days, but adaptive gaming would take things to another level. It’s a fascinating concept…but does anyone care? Personally, I like getting better at games to the point that I’m trouncing anyone and anything that stands in my way. However, I know a lot of gamers love extreme challenges and cruel difficulty (hello Ninja Gaiden!). For thrill seekers, an adaptive game might be the best thing since sliced bread #2. A game would start out at a “normal” difficulty level and ramp up as the player becomes familiar with the controls and improves.
It sounds great (in theory), but I don’t think it’s for me. How about you ladies and gentlemen? Do you want your games to get harder as you get better? Or would you rather have a static difficulty setting?