Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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The Player

The Player, simply put, is anyone who plays your game. The player should be a considerable point of focus when designing each element of your game, especially motivational elements. The player will be the one affected by these sources of motivation, and they will react based on the ways that these motivations guide them.

Focusing Questions

  • Which parts of your game will the player be motivated by?
  • How is the player guided by their motivations within the game?
  • Are there any parts of your game where the player feels a lack of motivation to do anything?

Can be instantiated by



Super Mario World

Even the earlier levels of Super Mario World offer the player a significant challenge

Super Mario World wraps many forms of motivation into one game. The difficulty curve and mechanics offer the player a feeling of competence and allows for the player to enter a state of flow. The pattern of reward is also quite prevalent in this game, as the player is rewarded for collecting coins, defeating enemies, and completing levels. Additionally, curiosity is included in a variety of forms. There are puzzle blocks that contain an item or coins, and there are also secret areas within levels that unlock new areas.


When thinking about how the player fits into each aspect of your game design, consider the following:

Sources of Motivation

At any given point in the game, the player should usually feel motivated to do something within the game. The exception to this would be times when you purposefully want to give the player a break in the action as a good point to stop playing and resume at a later time. Think about each section in your game and what the player feels that they should be doing at that time.

Player Personality

Simply put, every player is different. Some players will charge right through the game and take the shortest path possible, while others will search every nook and cranny. Some players will do everything they can to push the limits of the game's mechanics and attempt to find bugs or glitches. Figure out who the target audience is for your game, and then consider various personalities within that audience. If possible, try to design aspects of your game that will be fun for multiple personalities. For example, include a fairly constant stream of enemies for someone that intends to rush through the game, but also include some additional hidden items for those who prefer to explore.




The lens is industry standard.


Components: Autonomy, Competence, Self



lenses/lens_of_the_player.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/19 06:14 by boneill