What is a game?
We've already stated that people play games because they experience emotions that are closely related to the main factors of happiness (Playing to Happiness: Part 2 http://www.epicwinblog.net/2013/03/playing-to-happiness-part-2.html)
Mainly because games involve fun-creating elements and many ways to fulfill our very basic motivations, but.... What is a game?
Well, defining a game is not one of the easiest things to do, it's not "nice and easy" to say what a game is and there are many definitions given by experts, all different and similar at some point.
What we can really do is analysing which elements all games have in common to define a game as an activity that involves (and here i quote Jane Mcgonigal, based on Bernard Suits):
- 2. A set of rules that we have to respect and follow. In this same example, we can only roll two dices of 6 faces (wish we could play with a D&D 20´s). This rules create the "frame" or also called "magic circle of Huizinga.
- 3. A voluntary and playful willingness to overcome the obstacles, challenges, or just to play. No one wants to play monopoly if your MBA super cool teacher tells you to do so to learn. Well, maybe we do, but it wont be that fun if a mark is given! Games are voluntary, and if forced, playing turns into working (This refers to Daniel H. Pink and his book "Drive")
- 4. Last but not least, games require continuous feedback on what we are doing. In monopoly, feedback is given through our friends giving us money for our streets. We did something rigth and we get the confirmation of it. All the way around, when we pay, we know we didnt do that much right. Negative feedback is also provided! Points system are this kind of feedback that almost all games use.
The 16 Human motivators
So we know what a game is, but...why do we actually play them? For happiness? Yes! but.. What are the reasons underlying?
Well, it turns out that humans are not as complicated as they say. We are more than carrots and sticks but we´ve got what Dr. Steven Reiss calls: The 16 basic human motivators and their object of desire (see the picture above. Taken from John Radoff´s "Game on"):
So in example, humans are motivated by order and we desire organization. Simple huh? Ever thought of why games like Candy Crush or Bejewelled are so popular? Something inside your brain is telling you: that's all messed up! Tidy it up now! (Like moms and kids, but in games and without rewards).
Or another example, social contact and status. Two words that appear everywhere nowadays, and that are the base of twitter, facebook, and any kind of social experience. Nothing new though, once upon a time, Aristoteles said that humans were "social animals".
Checking the list, we can also see that humans crave for acceptance, the feeling of being part of something bigger than us, to be part of a group. A place to belong, and where to find a better place to do so than in World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2? Guilds are based on comradeship and this kind of experiences.
Even Angry Birds, a casual game that appears to be as simple as throwing outrageous birds to nasty piggies has a background "behind the scenes". Those piggies stole the bird´s eggs, and those birds are YOUR birds. Vengeance IS REQUIRED!!! Joining dots?
If at this point, you are starting to realise that everything makes sense, wait until fun enters the main scene, gamification is a riveting and thrilling world because....
.........the magic comes when we link this 16 factors to the 42 things that people consider FUN....
(To be continued in part 2)