Article: Williams, P. et al. (2011). Balancing Risk and Reward to Develop an Optimal Hot-Hand Game

Game Studies LogoTitle: Balancing Risk and Reward to Develop an Optimal Hot-Hand Game
Author: Paul Williams, Keith V. Nesbitt, Ami Eidels & David Elliott
Year: 2011
Additional: Game Studies 11 (1)
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This paper explores the issue of player risk-taking and reward structures in a game designed to investigate the psychological phenomenon known as the ‘hot hand’. The expression ‘hot hand’ originates from the sport of basketball, and the common belief that players who are on a scoring streak are in some way more likely to score on their next shot than their long-term record would suggest. That is, they are on a ‘hot streak’, or have the ‘hot hand’. There is a widely held belief that players in many sports demonstrate such streaks in performance; however, a large body of evidence discredits this belief. One explanation for this disparity between beliefs and available data is that players on a successful run are willing to take greater risks due to their growing confidence. We are interested in investigating this possibility by developing a top-down shooter. Such a game has unique requirements, including a well-balanced risk and reward structure that provides equal rewards to players regardless of the tactics they adopt. We describe the iterative development of this top-down shooter, including quantitative analysis of how players adapt their risk taking under varying reward structures. We further discuss the implications of our findings in terms of general principles for game design.

The Hot Hand
Game Requirements and Basic Design
Stage One – Player Fixation
Stage Two – Encouraging Exploratory Play
Stage Three – Balancing Risk and Reward

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