Learning curve

Characterisation of progress of skill during the gaming experience.


Learning curve might refer to acquired skill or the necessary to play. And depending on a game type the term is more useful when referring to the experience evolving from game to game or during the single playthrough. Usage will depend on a game and user's intention, the scheme below gives only a rough idea in what case approaches might be worth trying.

acquired necessary
single game puzzles
provided content
many rules
multiple games emergence abstract

Two types are often worth comparing to check if acquired skill is never lower than necessary skill. But as there is no general unit of skill and each experience with the game might differ vastly, you usually don't model the learning curve in detail, but use that metaphor to compare different games.

When sketching out a learning curve for that comparison, you can have at least four elements: skill floor, general steepness of the learning curve, the length of the experience and skill ceiling.

Skill floor

Minimum skill required to play the game.

If your game is backed up by technology skill floor refers rather to conditions of game enjoyment — rules might be complicated and despite that playing should proceed because the administration is done by electronics/physics.

In board-like games skill floor might mean how much prior learning there is necessary to have an attempt at playing the game and this is even more the case with music games, because you have many types of skill involved.

Skill ceiling

Learning curve tends to flatten out with time to form a skill ceiling. However, the skill ceiling is hopefully not reachable if a game has enough depth. With high skill ceiling the game has potential to engage players for a very long time.

Other game design terms:

Mark for clarification

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License