In a previous post, I described the general categories of the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI). In this post, I will be explaining the components in the customization category: Building, Experimentation, Replay, Uniqueness, Variety.
The components in the orange customization category deal largely with a player’s effect on their play experience. These components examine the player’s ability to tailor their gaming experience to what they want by offering pieces of the game that can be customized or reconfigured. This can happen on both an aesthetic and a cerebral level.
The building component deals with the ability of the player to create and configure the environment and objects in a game. As a customization component, building is the customization of the game through the use of resources. This can be intrinsic resources, those provided by the game for the purposes of use in the game, or extrinsic, such as using external tools to adjust portions of the game (i.e., modding). The more the game allows the player to craft or create something tangible, the stronger its building component is. It is tied to the action of making something, whether it be the countryside, a house, or a piece of clothing. If the player can say that they made those things, it contributes to the building component. It matters less what is made and more the act of making. Players strong in the building components want to be able to put their mark on the world. They want to fill the game with things that they have made, and want the landscape of the world to be built by them.
The experimentation component focuses on the spirit of innovation and testing the limits of a game. Being a customization component, the aim for the player is to have some ability to configure the actions of the world. For the most part, this is taking the actions provided by the game and reconfiguring them by combining them with other actions or repurposing the actions. The component describes the act of trying out new ways of doing things and finding out how to do what the player wants to do in the game. Games that provide a lot of interaction between actions and environment will be stronger in the experimentation component. A player strong in experimentation will spend more time trying to do what they want to do in a game, regardless of what the game tells them they should do.
The replay component describes the idea that a game has some factor in it that can change the game drastically during different playthroughs. The point of replay isn’t necessarily for the player to go through the game in every way possible, but the mere existence of these pathways through the game make for a stronger replay component. The component deals with the ability of the player to configure their route through the game. The existence of multiple paths through the game leads to players being able to choose the path that is right for them. A game with a lot of modes to complete it will have a stronger replay component. The aim of games strong in the replay component is to allow the players to get through the game however they wish. The player with a strong replay component wants to complete the game by designing how the events of the game play out and how they access those events. These players want many options to choose from for routes and methods.
The uniqueness component describes the ability for the player to configure their identity in the game. Most often, this is done by letting the player craft an appearance for their character in a game, but can also extend to a character’s personality. This component surrounds the desire for the player to stand out when compared to other characters or players. A game that lets players change how their in-game representation looks, or how the character behaves will be stronger in the uniqueness component. A player strong in uniqueness wants to be different. They want to feel like they are special, or unique, in comparison to other entities in the game, be them other players or game-controlled. These players want more opportunities to stand apart from the crowd.
The variety component describes the ability for a player to configure their experience in a game. This often involves games that offer different, separated kinds of gameplay. Games strong in variety will have a lot of different modes of play, many of which are related by theme but not gameplay. A number of games do this by providing mini-games, small games that are a subset of play, and usually very different from what is considered standard gameplay. Players who are strong in variety want a lot of varied modes of gameplay. They also want to be able to get quickly in and out of a game, rather than being tied to a game. Many games designed to be played in a party setting have high variety components.