Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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Lens of Experimentation

Allowing the player to attempt behavior with uncertain outcomes. If the player can find herself in a situation in which she can either implement learned behavior to achieve expected results, or attempt novel behavior that may succeed or fail, the game can minimize the cost of failure. The novel behavior may produce a success that is designed to be more rewarding, or it may just be more interesting to execute. Encouraging one act of experimentation may prompt the play to experiment more often, later in the game. This lens may also feed into Curiosity.

Trying new food is a perfect illustration for this lens. It has uncertain outcomes, but may end up to be rewarding.

Focusing Questions

  • Where do I give the player the choice to either use learned behavior or try something new? How does the cost of failure affect her choice?
  • Where does the game tell players to try something new? Rather than telling them, could it encourage experimentation, without halting their progress?
  • What can the game do to encourage or reward experimentation? Can this be done without a lack of reward discouraging later experimentation?

Can be Instantiated by



Assassin's Creed

In Assassin's Creed, the player is very often required to assassinate a target. The player knows where the target is located and has to make his way into the targets location. But the path to be taken is undefined and allows the player to come up with various strategies. Sometimes if the player's route saves him time or bags him a silent kill the player is even rewarded.


Player is aware

The player should be aware that he/she has the chance to experiment and play around with how they may want to got about playing the game. Your game should throw subtle hints at the player to invoke thoughts about the possibility of a better/ different way of completing the task at hand. If the player is never aware of the existence of a different way, the player will never give into the temptation of experimenting. Another way of making the player aware is be stating it at the start of the game, that there may be multiple ways to complete missions.


There should be some incentive for the player to experiment. The player is generally penalized if experimentation fails, so to the contrary a player must be rewarded in some form for an ingenious method of clearing an objective. With rewards you also tempt the player into continuing his experimentation endeavours.


  • Create a primary way to complete a task.
  • Figure out other ways the player may go about completing the task (if your game allows it).
  • If there exists a way that seems unique or really hard to think of, reward the player for that.



Motivations :- Autonomy, Curiosity Components :- Uncertain Outcomes, high risk high reward


lenses/lens_of_experimentation.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/18 00:45 by araman