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game mechanics motivators Jun 27, 2020

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

I spoke at the Irish Game-Based Learning Conference this morning. Believe me, I would rather have been there in person if for no other reason than to be on their time zone (waking at 4:00 AM to speak does not fit my circadian rhythms).  

The conference was academically oriented with PhD candidates reading their abstracts. And, as candidates love to do, they shared their spreadsheets of keyword searches and literature reviews. Not only do I now have a great list of the all the categorizations of player and personality types (if you’ve read my book, you know how I feel about these), but I also have 17 game mechanics to add to our Master List. 

Since many of the readers of this blog have our book, which includes the exhaustive list of game mechanics that I had identified at the time of publication (161 mechanics), I thought I would share with you the new additions. 

And I’m chagrined that I previously overlooked some of the mechanics. 

For instance, if you’ve gone through a live Level 1 Gamification Certification, you may have heard me talk about This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Grammar, a business grammar course I created a few years ago. I mention how this program had dual economies (cookies and boss points). And yet, Dual Economy didn’t make the list. 

Dual Economy: Two separate economic sectors within one game, divided by different levels of development, technology, and different patterns of demand. Motivators: Power, Saving, Spending (Low Saving), Status.

 

We also use the following in our current design projects, but I didn’t put them in the Master List:  

Locks: Process is halted until the player does something to cause an unlock. (Unlocks are on the list.) Motivators: Curiosity, Power, Adventure (Low Tranquility).  

Mystery: A player is presented with a scenario or puzzle they must solve. Motivators: Curiosity, Adventure (Low Tranquility).  

Riddle: A word puzzle that must be solved to progress. Motivators: Curiosity, Order.  

 

Then there are three of them that are grouped around the concept of lives and player energy in games:  

Death: When a player fails in a mission or challenge. Motivators: Honor, Power. 

Health: The level of “energy” or “vitality” a player has to continue play. Motivators: Acceptance, Power, Tranquility.  

Lives: A player is given a certain number of attempts to complete a level or the game. Motivators: Power, Adventure (Low Tranquility), Vengeance.  

 

There are some I overlooked because of Self-Hugging. You’d think I’d like guild play because of my desire for Social Contact, but it turns out my desire for Independence trumps Social Contact. 

Accountability: A system whereby the player is held accountable for their actions, choices, and behavior in the game. Motivators: Honor, Idealism, Interdependence (Low Independence), Power, Social Contact, Status.  

Leading (others): Player leads a group either as guild leader or game master. Motivators: Family, Power, Social Contact, Status. 

 

Also in the Self-Hugging camp… 

Endowed Progress: Artificial advancement that encourages the player to keep working toward the goal. Motivators: Acceptance, Expedience (Low Honor). 

Incentives: Items and rewards that encourage players to continue to play or take an action. Motivators: Acceptance, Tranquility.  

Nurture: When a player acts to help an object or person grow and develop. Motivators: Acceptance, Family, Idealism, Interdependence, Power, Social Contact, Status. 

 

The following are some interesting omissions:  

Maze: A player must choose a route through the territory where there is one path out and many dead ends. Motivators: Flexibility (Low Order), Power, Adventure (Low Tranquility).  

Overtime: When a winner isn’t identified within the prescribed time of play, and competition continues. Motivators: Physical Activity, Power, Vengeance.  

Pattern Recognition: Detecting or discovering a pattern within perceived random data. Motivators: Curiosity, Order.  

Power-up: An object that adds temporary benefits or extra abilities to the player: Motivators: Acceptance, Expedience (Low Honor), Flexibility (Low Order), Power.  

 

And my new favorite, thanks to Fortnight… 

Events: A gathering or event that happens at a specific time, often outside of usual game play. Motivators: Flexibility (Low Order), Social Contact, Status, Adventure (Low Tranquility. 

 

If you'd like to see the other 161 mechanics that I've identified, uncover the most important reasons for creating gamified training, and journey through a comprehensive, scientifically-based, and easy-to-use process that any L&D professional can immediately use to level up your courses, you can order your copy of Deliberate Fun HERE.

 

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