Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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The Lens of Player Challenges

The game should allow for the possibility of player's setting up their own challenges/goals so they can strive to complete them and feel competent. In view of self-efficacy, it should/will allow the player to set up goals that they believe they can complete. These goals will give the player more confidence when they complete them and give them a stronger belief that they can do even better as the game progresses.

In Call of Duty 4, and pretty much every third person or first person shooter, the game is played by all sorts of skill levels thrown together. An example of a player set challenge might be to have at least 3 kills, if they are new, but once they get experienced at the game, their challenge might be to have 15 kills and only 3 deaths. This allows players to change their goals as the game progresses and they feel a sense of accomplishment after completing it.

Focusing Questions

  • How can my game allow for the player to create a challenge for himself?
  • How can the player up the difficulty or lower it depending on his mood or skill level?
  • What effects will it have on other players?

Can be instantiated by

Patterns - enemies, strategy, chances,

Lenses - challenge, difficulty curve, meta-game, time, comeback, loss,


Mass Effect 3

In Mass Effect 3, the multiplayer mode has a wide variety of customization. There are 4 difficulty levels, 19 maps, and 30+ characters to choose from with each having a different set of skills. This allows players countless ways to challenge themselves. Perhaps they want to solo an easy difficulty with a sniper, or maybe they want to partner up with a team and do the platinum difficulty but on a very hard map against difficult enemies. The player can change their personal challenges from game to game based on their belief on whether they will win or not.

Drop 7

Drop 7 is a very easy game to play with minimal effort required. However, that is where player challenges come into play. There are two main ways to score points, “beating levels” which yield 7,000 points, or creating combo's to yield multiples of 7's points. The bigger the combo, the more points you receive. So perhaps one time you simply want to try and get to 40 levels, once you get past 25, it becomes extremely difficult to keep advancing. So you simply try to get rid of the balls as quickly as you can without thinking about combo's or points. But then the next game you might try and shoot for 300,000 points, so you go for big combo's which requires luck and patience. So the game can be played in two different ways, depending on which challenge the player is trying to go for that particular game.


Is there any way for the player to set the challenges within the game and be rewarded?

Does your game allow for the option of the player physically setting up the challenges within the game and be rewarded for completing them? If a player is trying to kill 1000 enemies, for example, can he actually go into the menu and set up that challenge? Would it be better if the developer gave them challenges to begin with?

Can you give them challenges to complete without forcing them to complete them?

For example, in ME3 and the new CoD games, there are challenges in the menu that yield major benefits upon completion. Will these push the player along a mindset that they want to go and complete them? Going back to the ME3 example from earlier, there is an achievement for beating 100 platinum levels. Is this a game challenge, or can it be turned into a player set challenge?


This lens is pretty theoretical, especially now that games are starting to implement more direct challenges. They are taking player set challenges and turning them into in-game challenges.


Motivations: competence, self-efficacy, achievement, self, mood management Mechanics: Goals, Feedback, Challenge, Player Journey



Zach Whitman

lenses/lens_of_challenges.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/19 01:23 by zwhitman