Why do people play games? According to a 2004 XEODesign study, there are 4 key elements that make people play: hard fun, easy fun, altered states, and the people factor.
Gamers want to be in flow. That means giving them skill-based challenges that aren’t too easy or too hard. Failing 80% of the time (and succeeding 20% of the time) can be really satisfying.
Gamers want to feel awe, mystery, and excitement. Think of the lights and sounds of winning a jackpot on a slot machine, exploring a new continent in WoW, or the desire to see what happens in the Final Fantasy 7’s plotline.
Games have the power to change someone’s mood. They can help clear someone’s mind after a stressful day, help them avoid boredom, and make them feel better about themselves.
The People Factor
Players want to compete against with each other, collaborate with each other, share in their friends’ successes and gloat over their rivals’ failures. This effect is so strong, that they might even play a game they don’t like.
Here are some of the most frequent emotions trigged by games:
|Emotion||Definition & Triggers|
|Fear||Threat of harm, object moving quickly to hit player, sudden fall or loss of support, possibility of pain|
|Surprise||Briefest of all emotions, does not feel good or bad, after interpreting event this emotion merges into fear, relief, etc.|
|Disgust||The strongest triggers are body products such as feces, vomit, urine, mucus, saliva, and blood.|
|Naches/ Kvell (Yiddish)||Pleasure or pride at the accomplishment of a child or mentee.|
|Fiero (Italian)||The ultimate game emotion: personal triumph over adversity.
Overcoming difficult obstacles players raise their arms over their heads.
They do not need to experience anger prior to success, but it does require effort.
|Schadenfreude (German)||Gloat over misfortune of a rival.
Competitive players enjoy beating each other especially a long-term rival.
Boasts are made about player prowess and ranking.
|Wonder||Over whelming improbability.
Curious items amaze players at their unusualness, unlikelyhood, and improbability
without breaking out of realm of possibilities