Thursday, May 22, 2008

Elements of Addiction

The basis of any successful videogame is not just playability, but re-playability. Bringing back your players time and again, providing enduring enthrallment is a secondary layer that separates one-hit-wonders from classics. Games like Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64 are over a decade old, yet they continue even to this day to provide high quality entertainment due to the sole fact that the final product released way back then was so polished and well thought-out that the enduring playability of it would far exceed other games of that time. For this reason, my proposal for a game is one that integrates successful aspects of previous games in the nature of being able to keep the players motivated (through systems within the game) to continue to play.

In a sense it’s difficult initially to pinpoint exactly what makes games addictive. On one hand, there is the notion of success through continual improvements to the game, as is the case for World of Warcraft (the leading online game, currently.) Content patches are released on a multi-annual basis to provide players with new rewards and goals to strive towards, preventing the game from becoming stagnant and engaging the playerbase to continue their time throughout the world, all the while paying monthly fees and such. Based off of this, the cornerstone of my game, which I dub The Tower, will be a focus on pivotal rewards that engage players to spend time in the game with fewer incentives but at the same time stronger incentives.

How will I do this? By creating avatars. It’s not a new concept, but the sense of ownership players have over their virtual avatars remains at the forefront of addictive tendencies, to the point where players are literally driven to improve themselves virtually as an ego-booster in real life. It’s so effective that players simply log online to catch a glimpse of the avatar they have spent so much time on, thereby increasing their interaction with the game environment and improving their chances of returning to see it once again.

The next major concept I wish to include is the concept of risk vs. reward. A very successful tactic is the nature of giving players in my virtual world tasks that they are meant to overcome. They continue to play many hours longer than necessary with the motive being that they are working ever closer towards an underlying goal, something that will keep them motivated to return, which is the main driving intention.

Lest we forget, a major driving force in society is the concept of sex, or sexual appeal. Giving people taunting messages of sex or even simply physical attraction gives them motive to keep engaging themselves in the world. They see these messages as inviting and engaging, giving them a sense of inclusion and belonging, something they perhaps lack in normal life. By doing this, I am honing in that message of continued enhancement and inclusion, keeping players coming back again and again.

I will include more of my proposal in future updates, but again the sole purpose is to tap into the addictive tendencies that are making today’s games as popular as they are. By looking into what they are doing correctly, we can take that and refine it to a level that can provide players with a new, equally engaging experience that will have them returning.

No comments: