Long Term Incentive in Game Design

Over at The Game Prodigy, Brice has posted a thoughtful, extensive essay on long term incentive in game design.

Game Prodigy: The Game Design Canvas: Long Term IncentiveExcerpt:

Striving for a Goal

In well-designed games, the reason that players continue to play is because the player is seeking something. They are striving after a goal. The goal doesn’t need to be as explicit as you would think; it doesn’t even need to be very important to the player. In fact, the player may not even be consciously aware of the goal that is driving them. But there is a goal, an Incentive, for them to keep going after.

… If there is no Long Term Incentive, then the game is not really a full game. These types of experiences are more like toys. The player explores the actions they can do (Base Mechanics), they investigate the relationships between the actions and feedback (P&R Systems), and they enjoy the content (Aesthetic Layout), but then they are…finished. There is nothing more to learn, nothing more to do. Everything has already been done.

The Game Design Canvas by Brice @ The Game Prodigy

The idea that games without long-term incentive are “more like toys” strikes me as a particularly keen insight.

And timely! Thanks for the Christmas gift, Brice!