Saturday, 23 March 2013

Motivation in computer games

Here is an article at Gamasutra outlining (some of the) motivational techniques computer games use to keep players hooked. Try to ignore the horrendous use of algebra. Some of these include:
  • Exploration and mastery of the game world (and set of rules)
  • Rewards (Better equipment, experience points)
  • Setting up a need (New equipment, resources, skill) then giving it
  • Challenge (Tournaments, etc)
  • Player state (levelling up etc)
Achievement badges do not get a mention.

Also of note is the mention of negative motivation:
However, there are opposite motivations based on negative characteristics as well, such as addiction, alienation, anger, frustration, etc. It can be interesting to exploit these feelings sometimes, for deeper needs, but to build a complete system based on this would be destructive. At the end, the player would be left feeling bitter and would be repelled by the game.
Many online math learning tools rely heavily on repetition and the human desire for collection and completion, which falls easily in to this category.

Here is another article arguing that acheivement badges are very much negative motivators, stating: "I think that any system that is based on endless collection, or any system where there is collection without a larger purpose is exploitative and uninteresting (and therefore unfulfilling)."

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