Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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Lens Of Action

Actions are the core tools a player has to influence the game. Camera control, avatar movement, jumping, all these can make up the actions of your game. The core loop of any game is to have a goal, do an action to try to progress, and process the resulting feedback into more actions.

Focusing Questions

  • What actions are players allowed to do? What can they explicitly not do?
  • What actions do players wish they could do that they cannot? Why?

Can be instantiated by





In Yahtzee, there are a small number of actions that form the core gameplay loop.

  • Roll the dice (up to 3 times per turn)
  • Save 0 - 5 dice, reroll the rest
  • Trade in a set of dice for points (full house, straight, etc)


A game without actions is like a sentence without verbs - nothing happens. Deciding the actions in your game will be the most fundamental decision you can make as a game designer. Tiny changes to these actions will have tremendous ripple effects with the possibility of either creating marvelous emergent gameplay or making a game that is predictable and tedious. Choose your actions carefully, and learn to listen to your game and your players to learn what is made possible by your choices. - Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design




The lens is industry standard.



  • Schell, J. (2008). The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann.


lenses/lens_of_action.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/19 00:22 by danieljost