Presented by Scott Rigby at PAX Dev in Seattle, WA (2011)
This session presented a validated model and specific strategies for designing mechanics, content, and features that are optimally designed to maximize the lifetime value and enthusiasm of players by sustaining their interest and engagement with your game. The key to this model is understanding basic motivational needs – specifically needs for competence/mastery, autonomy, and relatedness – that we are all deeply motivated to satisfy on an intrinsic level. The fundamental nature of these needs means that games can either (1) facilitate their satisfaction through design and reward structures that are optimized for intrinsic motivation or (2) thwart their satisfaction through structures that data show will undermine intrinsic needs (and push players away). During this session, we reviewed the principles of intrinsic needs and then had a more interactive discussion with the audience around what “supports vs. thwarts” these basic needs – looking at traditional reward structures and mechanics alongside actual data on how these aspects of game design impact players’ basic need satisfaction and sustained engagement. The take-away goal was to give folks an understanding of both the general principles critical to sustained engagement, as well as (i) ways to think about their application to the day-to-day work of game design and (ii) how to vet design choices through player testing.