Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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Lens of Excitement

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A game designer may want to convey a sense of excitement, and bring their player into a highly aroused state. When doing so, they may ask themselves these questions:

  • Are my color choices vibrant and dramatic? (Reds, high contrast, etc.)
  • Does my composition quickly draw the players eye to many places?
  • Is the music fast paced?
  • Is my game play timed?
  • Can I speed up the game play?
  • How quickly are events occurring? How fast must the player react?
  • How much breathing room am I giving my player between sequences?
  • How difficult is the game play?
  • Is the player put under pressure by one of these or other mechanics?

Example: Super Meat Boy

“Super Meat Boy is a tough as nails platformer where you play as an animated cube of meat who's trying to save his girlfriend (who happens to be made of bandages) from an evil fetus in a jar wearing a tux.

Our meaty hero will leap from walls, over seas of buzz saws, through crumbling caves and pools of old needles. Sacrificing his own well being to save his damsel in distress.”


Visual The level design clearly illustrates that this is a high energy, high stress game. imagery associated with violence (Blood splattering, saws, fire) and lots and lots of red. (Not only a very bright and stimulating color, but also associated with passion and violence in Western culture.)

Music: Electronic, fast paced

Game Play

Nothing in Super Meat Boy creates as much tension as much as the game-play. Super Meat Boy is a twitch reflex, platforming game that is masochistically difficult. The player must move quickly, and their timing must be perfect. There is very little room for error, and usually no way to save yourself after a mistake. In fact it is expected that you must lose over and over to complete a level. (It is extremely rare and an impressive achievement to beat a level on the first try.)

We can tall that it was the designers' intent to have the player lose over and over through the reward given when they finally beat a level. Besides the short space of relief and satisfaction of achievement, the player is shown an animation of all of their attempts of beating the level, playing at the same time. This was clearly placed in the game to reiterate to the player how long they had to persevere before completing a level.

lenses/lens_of_excitement.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/15 19:48 by arunabraham