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Today, the most successful games are action games like FPS, RPG, MMORPG...

I'd like to make a peaceful game, but I don't know how to attract people. I can make good graphics, but that's not the main thing that makes people like a game for more than a couple of minutes. The content is important. In the game styles mentioned earlier, their main content is fighting, killing others, and generally making yourself the most powerful player in the game.

But what content can attract people in a peaceful game?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by bummzack, Byte56 Apr 7 at 15:16

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Go take a look at Glitch. –  Alex Feinman Jul 3 '12 at 15:42
    
You don't bring up Minecraft, while violence is possible, it's hardly the main content. I'd also consider it pretty successful. I spend hours building stuff in creative or peaceful modes and enjoy myself immensely. –  Karoly S Jul 3 '12 at 17:21
    
Take a look at the XBOX game Fez. It is awesome! And of course, The World of Goo and Braid. –  Martijn Courteaux Jul 21 '12 at 13:04

9 Answers 9

up vote 60 down vote accepted

You should probably have worded the question like this: "What is/can be appealing in peaceful games?", and then used the answers as a general guide.

Moving on, essentially, you're answering the question: "What interests/motivates/intrigues people in general, and isn't violent?"

Well, look around yourself. Good game designers see everything as a potential inspiration for a game mechanic, or an interesting aesthetic. I think that this pretty much answers it. Just look around you, and in other games, and see what interests you or other people!

But, here are some suggestions:

  • In general, boys like destruction (I'm quoting Jesse Schell on this), so maybe you should find a way to make it non-violent (physics/chemistry simulation? Minecraft-like TNT?)
  • Having any kind of power is a good feeling. Maybe you are a factory manager? A Sims City-like game can give a great sense of power, too.
  • Cooperation is interesting and is a primal instinct, thus, it's very good to make use of it. So, consider multiplayer!
  • Non-violent competition (competition being a primal instinct as well). Multiplayer gives you great posibillities here, as well.
  • (inspired by Byte's answer, and Jesse Schell) People also enjoy expression. Art, building, any kind of creative activity is great!
  • [Add almost any other noun from that Maslow's pyramid here]

So, the more basic urges or instincts you're able to satisfy, the better. See this updated Maslow's priority pyramid to find ideas (remember, games have the ability to satisfy even the lowest of these, and they use it all the time!):

Updated Maslow's priority pyramid, use it.

Jesse Schell wrote a great book that will definitively help you: The Art of Game Design.

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+1 This answer needs more upvotes. –  Jonathan Hobbs Jun 30 '12 at 13:21
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+1 Great points and directing the OP where to find more information. Though, that Hierarchy of Needs is a bit horrifying in its possible poignancy. –  chaosTechnician Jun 30 '12 at 14:31
    
Thanks, guys! Can you explain the use of the word "poignancy" here, @chaosTechnician? –  jco Jun 30 '12 at 17:09
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@Bane Disturbingly accurate –  Jonathan Hobbs Jul 1 '12 at 5:12
    
What's the downvote for? –  jco Nov 13 '12 at 13:20

The main things that attract people to the Harvest Moon series are

  • curiosity (new environment to explore)
  • social events, even side stories. family, friends etc.
  • events or stories.
  • new experience (farming)
  • finally a goal (the game goal or a financial goal in the game) simply some success.
  • and of course more freedom, less limitation or repetition + more choices.
  • in-game secrets
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One thing most posters seems to have forgotten is Exploration. Lot of people likes that, might it be exploring a country or a complicated crafting system.

You might want to check out the Bartle Test which is one of the first studies on what drives players in multiplayer games, there is non-peacefully parts but most of it can be used to think up a peacefully game (for example: exclude the 'killers' and what they like: 'interacting on other players in a harmful way' and make it 'interact on other players in a peacefully way').

You might want to check out this Gamasutra article as well for ideas.

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+1 Happy 2000 points ;) Exploration is a huge fun factor, IMO. –  Nick Wiggill Mar 29 at 9:18
    
Hah, hey thanks! Guess I'll have to get around more often now ^^ –  Valmond Apr 5 at 8:57

Study the biggest group of people who do not understand violence - preschool children.

I have 3 of them (I am so lucky they are all good :D) and there is a lot to be learned from observing how they play, learn and interact.

  • Competitive - even at a young age they want to be better than their siblings.

  • Impressive - they love to copy things they see on TV and that their parents do. Writing, riding bikes...

  • Imaginative - they love stories that go beyond reality. That box on the floor is a boat this week; last week it was a roller coaster. When they play together they make up some bizarre adventures.

  • Simplicity - If a game is too complex or can't be explained in 30 seconds, they will lose interest.

  • Rewards - They will do stuff simply to get something shiny or sweet.

  • Not sure how to label this, but they love to do things they are not normally allowed to do. Use Mummy's makeup, hit the keys on Daddy's laptop as he left the screen up.

There are probably more, but that is a selection of elements that could be rolled into a game to hook people that do not involve violence.

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OP will have 3-year-olds playing his games :D –  jadkik94 Jul 3 '12 at 14:00
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@jadkik94 No, I won't have 3yo playing my games. But he's still right. Principles of fun are same for old like for young. People are playing games mostly because of relaxation and fun. –  Miro Aug 17 '12 at 23:15

Peaceful games typically value creation over competition. You progress your game by the types of this you've created instead of how many kills you've scored. Some examples:

  • The Sims - You build up the life of a virtual character
  • Minecraft - Your accomplishments are the things you've built (assuming non PVP mode)
  • Sim City - You develop a virtual city

Your reward in these games is zooming way out on your digital creation and feeling pride about how cool it looks. For some people that's not really that compelling, for others it's all that matters.

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Competition doesn't imply violence, though. There are various creative competitions, for example. Using both of these things is the way to go, I think. –  jco Jun 30 '12 at 17:11

I think games are very much like movies in a sense. And for a movie to be good it doesn't have to be violent.

The big difference between a game and a movie is the interactive part (obviously). Also gamer's in general tend to want challenge and sometimes competition in games, which is not the case for movies.

But "necessary" mechanics of any game, violent or peaceful are:

Achievements: People need to chase something to stay interested, a (peaceful) game that hands you everything you can get from the start would get boring very fast. Example: If you could plant everything in FarmVille the first minute.

Reward: Once they've reached this goal they need satisfaction for the work. This could be a new feature, new items, whatever. Getting rewarded in a game activates the brains reward mechanism, which can get physically addictive, just like a drug.

Scoreboard: In today's society where everyone is judged by everyone this seems to give players alot of satisfaction, even when the only benefit is to showoff/brag. This could be counted in the reward part aswell, but I decided to put them separate.

These are three very basic mechanics that can be implemented into pretty ANY game. Now what you have to do is to decide what kind of a game you want to create, and based on that decide how you can implement all three of these mechanics to your game.

Other points i wont go deep into:

Cooperation: It's always fun to work togheter.

Competition: Always fun to beat your opponent.

Mystery: Keeps the player curious to what comes next.

I'll end the post there since it got very long, I hope this helps you to decide what kind of a game you want to create.

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The important point to understand is that it is good to have conflict in stories and games, but conflict does not mean fighting, war, killing or things like that. Also, collaboration (in conflict or not) is more rewarding to players on the long term.

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This is kinda backward. Conflict is necessary to build up tension, tension is required to make a compelling story. Violence is the easiest form of conflict. Most games try to tell a story and violence is the easiest way to archive that. You don't need to tell a story to make a game (a good story adds a lot the atmosphere though). The core component of a game still is the game-play. And the game-play rarely "needs" violence. For example a shooter could also be about a guy running through a parcour where he needs to hit all the targets once. Your game should be fun with or without violence, so think about that first and then think about violence. Not the other way arround.

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Sure, but not all games are story-delivery mediums. That's definitely the norm, though. –  Chumpy Jun 30 '12 at 4:00

How to make a game successful is not something that can be answered. Other than being at the right place at the right time with the right game.

However, there are plenty of options for making a peaceful game.

  • Puzzle games (Bejeweled)
  • Word games (Words with friends)
  • Art games (Draw something)
  • Collaborative construction games (Minecraft)
  • City building games (Sim city)
  • And more: Exploration games, kids games, learning games, physics based games, pet care taking games and so on.

There are so many options. People do tend to relate game playing to violent video games, but there are actually far more games that are not violent.

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Animal Crossing is one of my faves, although even in that I tend to beat people with my net a lot :) –  Scott W Jun 29 '12 at 23:43
    
The last time I checked Minecraft was partly about fighting zombies by any means (drowning them, shooting on them with arrows, hitting them with swords, pouring lava on them). –  nightcracker Jun 30 '12 at 7:58
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Minecraft is primarily about building and mining. There are zombies, yes, but that's hardly a bigger part of the game. –  jco Jun 30 '12 at 11:09

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