Ian Bogost

in How to Do Things With Videogames

Published by University of Minnesota Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780816676460
Published online August 2015 | e-ISBN: 9781452947617 | DOI:

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This chapter begins by presenting the axiom that a game should be “easy to learn and hard to master,” a concept which earned the title “Bushnell’s Law”, based on Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. This is a recurring notion that “holds” the key in making a powerful addictive game that people want to play over and over again. Pong, which resembles tennis, is “easy to learn” because it assumes the basic rules and function of a familiar cultural practice. Familiarity is the primary property of the game, not learnability. This example suggests that habituation build on prior convention. Games can also produce their own conventions, which become familiar enough to be adopted later in the same way that Pong adopts table tennis.

Keywords: Pong; familiarity; learnability; habituation; Bushnell’s Law; Nolan Bushnell

Chapter.  3031 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies

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