Now this is interesting. Since I got my Master’s Degree in Consumer Behavior and had to study the concept of Flow, I am really glad to have found this little article in the news. Apparently researchers studying the Flow phenomenon used Rock Band in their experiments and found some interesting results.
For those interested in what the Flow concept means, the article itself provides a wonderful definition:
Flow is a state of mind that occurs when people become totally immersed in what they are doing and lose all sense of time. It’s an intrinsically motivating state, which means that people are engaged in the task for the pure enjoyment of performing the task and not for some extrinsic reward.
The article is cool in itself, but it also provides some food for thought regarding the difficulty of music simulation games. Remember that old talk about button mashing we had in this blog a long time ago? Well, here’s what the scientists say about challenge and pleasure with the experience:
“For those students who have a moderate level of skill at Rock Band, the song has to be moderately challenging and match his or her skill level for optimal enjoyment to occur,” Fullagar said. “That has broad implications for teaching. It means that if we want students to enjoy or get a lot of satisfaction out of classes, we need to assign them challenging tasks but make sure that they have the skills necessary to meet the challenges of those tasks.”
According to Clive Fullagar, “most people achieve flow with work that is neither too easy nor too hard but just right.”
Conclusion: I’m glad the hardest song that Rock Band 2 requires you to play to complete the game and the Impossible Challenges is Painkiller and not Visions. Right on the spot. Yeah, include those insane songs so people can FC them and post them on Youtube, but a music game centered on the challenge alone is a BAD IDEA.
And by the way… one of the researchers asks himself in the end what is the effect of a failing band member on the flow of the other bandmates. You know, I actually LIKE when that happens. It is fun to have to try and help your bandmate with star power as quickly as possible, specially if you’re out of power. 🙂