Skill in games

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Often, a beginner composer's mistake is to come up, without realizing it, with music unplayable for future performers.
Unnecessary struggles can be fun, but if you want players to willingly perform your music game (maybe even enjoy it), you need to control the skills involved.

There is a default game design task of shaping the learning curve, especially the skill floor, so that the gameplay flow is smooth, and the potential audience is broad. But what are the relevant skills to consider? Let's have a general overview.

Musical and non-musical skills can both come in three categories: mind, body, and interaction, giving us six types. Here with examples:

musical non-musical
mind major harmonic scale;
what is a samba?
body 200 bpm in rhythm;
consistent strums on the string
200 bpm however;
good reflexes
interaction following the conductor;

Naturally, you may decide to include interaction within the mind category, and then add mind to body (following the brain). But the three types are useful to be distinguished when thinking about game design.


Games of musical skill and genres.

Games used generally for learning improvisation are interesting to describe separately. There might be no one musical skill that occurs independently of a genre. Phrasing, groove, intonation all happen within specific musical traditions, when this article is finished, we should have an overview of that too.


In abstraction, the ability to keep the steady rhythm might be a mark of every musician, but in some traditions keeping the rhythm doesn't occur in an actual musical performance as it is considered "non-musical", then the actual role of this skill fades. Read more...


Memory is a skill that is tested quite often in games. For designing, it is worth distinguishing long-term, short-term, and working memory, as well as procedural and explicit. Read more...

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