Value clarity

Published 2022-04-23.

C. Thi Nguyen defines value clarity as “the applicability and commensurability of game goals, and rankability of game achievements”. In other words: how clearly defined is the set of values you are pursuing? How easy is it to trade one value against another? Do they have a common scale? And how easy is it to compare one person’s success with that of another?

Part of the appeal of games—especially Suitsian games— is that they usually provide a much higher degree of value clarity than we experience in real life. In real life our values are vague, subtle, and incommensurable, which often causes us to feel confused about what we want or what we should do. Games offer us temporary relief from this confusion, which is part of what can make them so addictive. Nguyen points out that game-playing lets us practice alternately losing ourselves in, and then stepping away from, the pleasure of value clarity. (See agential fluidity.) This can help us avoid falling prey to value capture in other areas of life.


Nguyen, C. Thi. Games: Agency as Art (p. 197). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

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