Game player needs and designing architectures of participation

How do you cre­ate a cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment in which peo­ple share knowl­edge out of free will?1 This is a ques­tion my good friends of Wemind2 are work­ing to answer for their clients on a dai­ly basis.3 We’ve recent­ly decid­ed to col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly devel­op meth­ods use­ful for the design of a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry con­text in the work­place. Our idea is that since knowl­edge shar­ing is essen­tial­ly about peo­ple inter­act­ing in a con­text, we’ll apply inter­ac­tion design meth­ods to the prob­lem. Of course, some meth­ods will be more suit­ed to the prob­lem than oth­ers, and all will need to be made spe­cif­ic for them to real­ly work. That’s the chal­lenge.

Nat­u­ral­ly I will be look­ing for inspi­ra­tion in game design the­o­ry. This gives me a good rea­son to blog about the PENS mod­el. I read about this in an excel­lent Gama­su­tra arti­cle titled Rethink­ing Car­rots: A New Method For Mea­sur­ing What Play­ers Find Most Reward­ing and Moti­vat­ing About Your Game. The cre­ators of this mod­el4 want­ed to bet­ter under­stand what fun­da­men­tal­ly moti­vates game play­ers as well as come up with a prac­ti­cal play test­ing mod­el. What they’ve come up with is intrigu­ing: They’ve demon­strat­ed that to offer a fun expe­ri­ence, a game has to sat­is­fy cer­tain basic human psy­cho­log­i­cal needs: com­pe­tence, auton­o­my and relat­ed­ness.5

I urge any­one inter­est­ed in what makes games work their mag­ic to read this arti­cle. It’s real­ly enlight­en­ing. The cool thing about this mod­el is that it pro­vides a deep­er vocab­u­lary for talk­ing about games.6 In the article’s con­clu­sion the authors note the same, and point out that by using this vocab­u­lary we can move beyond cre­at­ing games that are ‘mere’ enter­tain­ment. They men­tion seri­ous games as an obvi­ous area of appli­ca­tion, I can think of many more (3C prod­ucts for instance). But I plan on apply­ing this under­stand­ing of game play­er needs to the design of archi­tec­tures of par­tic­i­pa­tion. Wish me luck.

  1. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, shar­ing knowl­edge in large organ­i­sa­tions is explic­it­ly reward­ed in some way. Arguably true knowl­edge can only be shared vol­un­tar­i­ly. []
  2. Who have been so kind to offer me some free office space, Wi-Fi and cof­fee since my arrival in Copen­hagen. []
  3. They are par­tic­u­lar­ly focused on the val­ue of social soft­ware in this equa­tion. []
  4. Scott Rig­by and Richard Ryan of Immer­syve []
  5. To nuance this, the amount to which a play­er expects each need to be sat­is­fied varies from game genre to genre. []
  6. Sim­i­lar to the work of Koster and of Salen & Zim­mer­man. []

Published by

Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.