As old generations fade and new generations arrive at a world where the internet is a common term various kind of content have arisen. Among this content, online video games have become a latent presence. With an industry worth over 23 billion in the US alone creating engaging games where users invest their time and money has become a pressing issue for companies (Lofgern, 2017) (Choi & Kim, 2004). Both from a psychological and game design perspective studies have been made. Research like the one conducted by Ryan, Rigby & Przybylski (2006) and Dickey (2007) have tried to narrow the divide between both fields. But more research is required in determining the tools game designers can use to address the user’s physiological needs.
The topic of this paper focuses on the importance of addressing key factors that foster intrinsic motivation in the video game. By finding links between the factors and the mechanics the designers will create tools to make better games. Factors by like the ones proposed by Deci & Ryan (2000) or by Yee (2006). Therefore, this analysis will contribute to the GDC design track by providing a more in-depth research on what are the factors a how can they be addressed with current designer tools. More mechanics like the ones researched by Dickey (2007) can increase the final game release.
The motivation that drives human beings has been researched by many experts. One of the most sought out theories in the field is the self-determination theory as stated y Ryan and Deci (2000). The theory states that within intrinsic motivation autonomy, competence, and relatedness factors need to be fulfilled to create enjoyment and fun (Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski, 2006). Competence is the ability of an individual to be efficacious at a certain activity. Autonomy is translated into the freedom of one’s decision without the influence of extrinsic motivations. Relatedness the need to feel belongness and connection to others.
Studies by Yee (2006) show 10 motivation subcomponents that grouped into 3 overarching components (achievement, social, and immersion) that drive players to enjoy the games. In another study conducted by Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski (2006) the factors proposed by Yee (2006) are tried to be compared to the SDT theory factors. In the study a new measurement is proposed named player experience of need satisfaction (PENS) compares both approaches Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski, 2006). The in the PENS measurement introduces a new factor in addition to the previously stated by the SDT, this factor is the presence. Presence is included as a new factor because it can be related to the flow as presented by Csikszentmihalyi (1990). The study conducted by Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski (2006) concludes a direct relationship between presence and Yee’s immersion. It also demonstrates a direct relationship between Yee’s social and relatedness. Nevertheless, the study discards a relationship between achievement and competence. Autonomy justified through intuitive controllers (IC) because it gives a sense of perceived control over the game.
A paper presented by Dickey (2007) proposes choice as a mechanic that can help foster intrinsic motivation. In the paper, two game mechanics in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are theorized as mechanics that might foster motivation. These mechanics are side quests, character design, and the game narrative. These three characteristics are present in almost all MMORPGs in the market.
With the rise of the video game industry, more games are being developed. The competition has generated pressure on companies to deliver a product that satisfies the needs of the consumer (Choi & Kim, 2004). Studies have been made that try to determine those needs like Ryan, Rigby & Przybylski (2006) and Yee (2006). But more research is required in determining the tools game designers can use to address the user’s physiological needs.
Choi, D., & Kim, J. (2004). Why People Continue to Play Online Games: In Search of Critical
Design Factors to Increase Customer Loyalty to Online Contents. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 7(1), 11-24. doi:10.1089/109493104322820066
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.
Dickey, M. (2007). Game design and learning: a conjectural analysis of how massively multiple online role-playing games (MMORPGs) foster intrinsic motivation. Educational Technology Research & Development, 55(3), 253-273.