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View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. With this Session Viewer, you can view session and speaker details for Game Developers Conference 2024.

You will be able to build your schedule with the GDC Mobile App. The GDC 2024 app will be available for download in Apple Apps and Google Play late February 2024.

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Free-to-Play Summit: How Games Manipulate You Through Deceptive Design

Emma Varjo  (Design Manager, Redhill Games)

Sebastian Long  (Managing Director, Player Research)

Location: Room 2006, West Hall

Date: Tuesday, March 19

Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Free-to-Play

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Video games are an elaborate deception — a kind of virtual magic trick — that rely on designers' capacity to weave stories, hide clues, leave puzzles, and surprise players.

Designers' deceptions are not always in players' best interests however, and game developers often explore the 'grey areas', sometimes unlocking new player experiences, but also unlocking benefits only in their KPIs and bottom lines.

This presentation aims to radically mature the discourse around deceptive design in game development, matching the maturity of discussion for websites and services: to define a list of patterns that can be effectively used to deceive players into doing things they likely would not do without the use of the patterns. For example, games can deceive players by using their mental models against them, eliciting accidental interactions, or employing emotionally exploitative fiction.

We go over what deceptive design means in games and introduce and detail novel patterns relevant and evident in recent game design.


Identifying these deceptive design patterns will help game designers identify, clarify and remove them from the games they create, and should kick-start a broader and more meaningful discussion around deceptive design in games.

Intended Audience

This talk is intended for game developers, players, parents, game journalists, and anyone interested in identifying and discussing deceptive design in games.

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