Industry veterans Rick Davidson & Tim Ruswick* take a deep dive into games that require low brain power, the design of them and what makes them work.

Not all games require your full brain power. Watch our Devology Livecast as Rick and Tim play Super Auto Pets and Iron Snout and demonstrate why low brain power games can be a lot of fun!

Listen to the whole chat here:

Our 'AHA' moments

  • Not all games require your undivided attention
  • Low brain games require very little thinking
  • Games that include high anxiety can also include low brain power
  • Less is more

What Is Low Brain Power?

The term low brain power means something you can focus on without taxing your brain too much. In depth strategy games such as XCOM require a lot of attention and planning which can be tiring for your brain.

Low brain power games are the complete opposite, it’s all about requireing little to no concentration (something you can play while listening to our Devology Livecasts 😜). As Rick demonstrates in the Iron Snout game, where you press the directional arrows as enemies come toward you. That’s it, there’s no need to carefully plan ahead or worry about other game over scenarios. It’s game over when you run out of life.

Anxiety Reduction and Low Brain Power (27:59 - 28:52)

Low brain power games can help with anxiety and help you relax, as opposed to a game that requires a lot of brain power and can cause anxiety.

So can some games have high anxiety but still be low brain power? Yes, games like Flappy Bird are a high anxiety low power brain game. The further you get in Flappy Bird the bigger the loss, because of how difficult it is to get past every pipe as you tap the screen. That loss means you have to start over and your score gets reset to zero.

Iron Snout also includes a sudden death mode, one hit means death. This also creates an element of high anxiety.

Is A Low Anxiety MMO Possible? (41:32 - 42:22)

It's possible to create a low anxiety MMO game but it needs to be friendly. The game should be about exploring the environment, socialising with other players and not being able to get killed by other players.

Don’t include level up systems or missions that may be difficult, this will increase the anxiety of the player. Keep it simple. Games like Second Life excel in this area.

We hope this Devology Livecast helps you understand how to make games that require low brain power and keeps players anxiety levels low.

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Remember, we host live develogy livecasts every Tuesday at 10pm BST on our YouTube channel. You can catch all the recordings, including this episode, in the Devology Livecast course - it's free to join, and also on our YouTube Channel.

Until next time, happy dev'ing!