Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

User Tools

Site Tools


Lens Of Constructive Competition

Competitive play is a form of multiplayer gameplay, that could potentially lead to fostering a sense of relatedness. By playing against others and improving our skills we gain a sense of competence. However, unlike in single player games this improvement can be attributed to the other players in the game. By seeing other players as helping us to become better, we begin to form meaningful connections with them. This positive form of competitive play is referred to as constructive competition.

Focusing Questions

  • How does your game facilitate friendliness between players?
  • How does your game relay to the players that the competitive environment should be playful?
  • How does your game prevent destructive competition?

Can be instantiated by




Borderlands 2 is a cooperative FPS RPG. Players can play online with people or play locally. For the most part, gameplay consists of players working together to progress through the game. However, there is a feature in the game that allows players to duel each other. When this happens, both participants in the duel can begin attacking one another until one of the emerges victorious. Once a winner is declared, the game becomes fully cooperative again. Duels can be used by players as a way to try out new abilities, kill some time, or as a way to improve each others skills to make progressing through the game easier.


The dark side of competitive play is referred to as Destructive Competition. Within this realm of competitive play, the player's relatedness need satisfaction is actually thwarted instead of satisfied. Opponents and teammates will attempt to tear the player down, taunt the player, cheat to gain advantage, and play the game in mean-spirited fashion. Control of player action thwarts autonomy need satisfaction, so simply trying to lock down the players in attempt to stop destructive competition will only hurt your design. Destructive competition is simply something to keep in mind when designing a game, as wherever possible limiting the ability for players to hurt other player's relatedness, and in turn supporting constructive competition will only serve to improve the overall design and player reaction to your game.




The lens is industry standard.



Rigby, S., & Ryan, R. M. (2011). Games and The Need For Relatedness. Glued to games how video games draw us in and hold us spellbound (). Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO.

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


lenses/lens_of_constructive_competition.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/19 17:57 by bsnyder