A Look at “Levels” by Steve Lopez Chess King and Chess King Pro feature one of the coolest “hooks” I’ve seen in a computer chess game in quite a while: the use of “levels.” The idea of “levels” and “leveling up” have become so common and pervasive in both video games and tabletop role-playing games, it amazes me to think that no one had applied this to a chess program before Chess King’s programmers did. The idea never crossed my mind and I even do a fair bit of writing for a small company that produces a tabletop role-playing game based on comic book heroes; it just never occurred to me that the concept could be applied to chess training! Chess King and Chess King Pro not only apply these concepts, but do it so well that the feature acts like a hook to draw the user back to the program to play game after game. But I’ve noticed that the concepts of “levels” and “experience points” sometimes baffle a few users, especially older players who aren’t overly familiar with video games and tabletop RPGs. In many traditional games (both video and tabletop), your progress and development are measured in experience points. Your character (who represents you in the game) typically begins at Level One with no experience points (in other words, as green as grass). As your character successfully meets challenges in the game, it earns experience points, a representation of the character’s success and increasing prowess. After enough experience points are earned, the character goes up a level, gains new skills and abilities, and these in turn allow a character to meet greater challenges in the game. You can read the full column at ChessCafe. So, are you ready to take on Chess King and level up?