I’ve noticed that rubberbanding (aka levelled gameplay or dynamic game balancing) is a good metaphor to describe what Lev Vygotsky, a russian educational scientist, described as keeping a learner in the ‚zone of proximal development‚. This means that the environment – parent, teacher, virtual learning environment – keeps up a certain level of difficulty in its tasks, to further emerging abilities in the learner. Coincidentally – or not so – this goes quite well with theories (for example Brian Sutton-Smith) that play and game are the most fulfilling when experienced in a state of internal insecurity of the outcome.
Thus rubberbanding is a game designer’s meta cheat to keep the player in the game and the learner hooked to the knowledge.
It could be discussed whether any game, by artificially creating rules facilitating a fair, inherent meaningful and fulfilling gaming experience is a cheat mode for the game we call ‚reality‘ and a tutorial mode (or editor) for the game we call ’society‘.