by Becky Chambers | 12:31 pm, July 30th, 2012
Back in the late ‘30s, J.R.R. Tolkien (that guy who wrote a few books about a ring or something) wrote a short story called Leaf by Niggle. I was unfamiliar with it until last week, when our managing editor sent it my way for reasons that will soon become apparent. Leaf by Niggle is a curious, poignant little tale of an unremarkable man struggling to complete a painting. Before his work is complete, he is forced to go on a journey — more plainly, he dies. The story is a big bundle of allegories on spirituality and creativity, but the thing that most captured my attention was Tolkien’s take on the afterlife. Heaven, for Niggle, is not a place of laid-back bliss, but rather one of constantly scaling challenges, neither too easy nor too punishing. Once all the challenges in one area have been completed, Niggle moves on to the next stage. By the end of the story, Niggle is blissfully content to continue ever onward, always pushing himself to learn, accomplish, and complete new things.
This, in a nutshell, is the concept of flow. It’s one of the core tenets of game design.READ MORE