In Chapter 2.15, "Emotionally Complex Moments and Situations Techniques," I discussed incongruence as a way of creating an emotionally complex moment. In Chapter 2.18, "World Induction Techniques," I made reference to some of the powers of incongruence to contribute to creating a rich world, and referred to the painting on page 3 in the color section.
The leaders of the "Game Tuning Workshop" gave an exercise that used, in effect, incongruence. But here incongruence was used as part of a brainstorming process.
The challenge was: What would happen if you took one type of game, and then tried to integrate into it a kind of gameplay that usually applies to a different type of game?
Everyone came up with highly imaginative ideas. Some groups originated ideas that sounded promising. Others came up with game concepts that would undoubtedly be flops. It's hard, for example, to combine "Britney's Dance Moves" (with dance patterns from early 21st-century pop sensation Britney Spears) and a WWII combat game, as much as some people might find the thought to be disturbingly appealing.
But coming up with possible successes or failures wasn't the point. The point was to give a power-up to one's creativity when it came to creating fun.
So, using the idea of incongruence, you might find it a creative challenge to see what would happen if you mixed game types with incongruent game activities.
What's Wrong with This Approach
Some designers have tried to mix and match types of gameplay, and the results have been games that satisfied no one and flopped financially. A very well-founded resistance to mixing modes of gameplay has developed in the game industry.
What's Right with This Approach
What's right is that every once in a while someone mixes types of gameplay and makes a game that is all the more appealing because of it. Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City are perhaps the most successful of these hybrids, combining foot travel, driving different vehicles (including driving stunts, chases, and combat from within vehicles), flying, and other kinds of fighting. And this isn't the entire list.
As this book is being written, I and the other members of The Freeman Group are currently working on about a dozen games, spread between six publishers. For a fourth of these games, the developers have decided to mix forms of gameplay. I don't know if these experiences are representative, but it does make clear that such experiments persist.