Mystery, Discovery, Triumph, Frustration

In mystery games the user is aware that they are being denied information. The games are attractive because the user requires challenges in their environment. This requirement may be to keep their problem-solving facilities in order, or to experience the endorphin/adrenaline of challenge, discovery and triumph. It may also be part of the search for a greater understanding of the user's environment in the large.

Mystery games create a social need to solve their mystery. Belonging to a group that has solved a problem allows the user to feel that they will be supported when another problem arises. The mystery game becomes a social test, and can be used to establish hierarchy within a community. Particular mysteries and pieces of knowledge can be wielded like swords to establish intellectual territory for an individual.

More complex mystery games will develop cyclical patterns of mystery and revelation, anticipation and release. This serves to keep interest without causing undue stress and triggering a rejection of the game. Theatre and storytelling make extensive use of these cyclical mystery cycles, where quite often the mystery is "what will happen next?"

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Copyright (c) 1997 -- Mike Fletcher
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