Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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Feedback is the principle of maintaining a constant venue of game world information for the player. In terms of Competence this principle is integral as the player will not know whether their actions have any kind of effect on the world without some form of feedback. A player cannot develop a true sense of competence without having a sense of effectance on the world.

The diagram demonstrates a simple example of how a player progresses through a game and where feedback should be implemented to keep the player invested in the experience.

Focusing questions

  • What information about the game environment/game mechanics is relevant to the player?
    • How is this relevant information displayed to the player?
    • Can you remove any information displays without hindering the player in terms of effectance or their understanding of the game environment?
  • How do the actions the player take have a representative effect within the game?
  • What is the best form of interface that you can use to represent this feedback?
    • Games often use more than one forms to convey individual pieces of information.

Can be instantiated by




Halo 3


To provide example of Feedback, Halo 3 is a perfect example. In the moment captured above, we have multiple examples of high level feedback. First, the point of shooters is to shoot your enemies. Halo 3 provides visual feedback of shot enemies by showing a armor effect, as shown in the elite on the far left. He is being shot, from above, and is subsequently showing that he is taking hits to all around. Second to this is the bullet trail. You have the ability to see where your shot and opponent's shots are landing, giving more ample feedback to the players.

Also, the game provides a very simple, yet in-depth HUD system. Displayed for the player are current team scores, time left in the game, health, all of the ammo and and weapons the player has available to herself, the aiming reticle for the current weapon, to the game type and even a mini-map denoting the placement of teammates and enemies in the immediate area. All of this information is very important to the player and how they will tackle the obstacles ahead of them, so the designers made sure to provide easy access to all of these elements.

The final aspect of feedback provided here is the use of markers. Halo 3 made use of markers for location of teammates and enemies that are within sight, among other states of players. Specific to this example, in the middle of the screen, the enemy is shown with an arrow, and the fact that he currently possesses the flag is noted in the marker. To the left, the blue teammate that is being shot has a orange marker noting location of the teammate and the fact that they are being shot, noted by an orange coloring. Finally, a red marker is inbetween the red and blue players, immediately behind the red player. This third red marker notes that a teammate has died at that location. Note the fact that the marker both represents height and depth of location relative to the player, giving spatial awareness on top of information. Simply put, feedback is integral to competent gameplay and many different methods and types can be implemented to achieve the goal of player understanding.


Explain things and caveats to think about when using this pattern.

Providing the Important Information

When designing for Feedback, you need to be aware of all of the possible information you can provide to the players. However, you do not want to provide all of this information. Games usually revolve around a few choice elements of all the information. Therefore when designing the method of feedback, you should note only the most important elements and design around them first.

Clear Messages

To design for Feedback is to transfer information to the player. However, the amount of information a single player can handle at one time has a limit and varies from person to person. Make sure to avoid overloading the player with information, as well as keeping the information you do send clear. Ambiguous information can serve to confuse and work against the player, becoming opposite of the expected use.


At the current time, there are no available tools


At the current time, I am not aware of any metrics.


The lens is industry standard and empirically validated.



Currently looking for references to improve the depth of the page's information.

List of scholarly and professional sources and references that serve as background or support to this pattern. Please reference using the APA citation style.


components/feedback.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/20 17:01 by arunabraham