Podcast 21: Achievements and Motivation

Achievements, trophies, badges, and similar rewards are ever present in video games. The assumption seems to be that they motivate players to keep playing a game in order to reach some goal or get some reward, and they are used judiciously by game designers and platform holders towards this end. They’re a kind of external reward for doing what the game designers want you to do. And it works, right? I mean, we love it when we hear that little sound and an achievement pops, right? Don’t we love it when we cross items off our quest logs? Or when we see our Xbox Gamer Score or Steam level go up?

Often, yeah. No doubt. But is that always so? Are there ways in which game designers can rely on achievements, trophies, badges, quests, goals, and other external motivators that can actually undermine our internal drives just play the game and enjoy it? In this episode I talk with Michael Hanus about when these kinds of things work and when they don’t.

Michael Hanus, Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska and this episode's guest.

Michael Hanus, Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska and this episode’s guest.

Audio Credits:

2 thoughts on “Podcast 21: Achievements and Motivation

  1. Fantastic podcast. This is one of the best and most complete discussions about Achievements I’ve ever come across. Reminded me of some stuff I wrote about Achievements 8 years ago (which also shocked me it was that long ago, heh). I was especially impressed you covered the signalling and status symbol aspect which often seems to get overlooked, but is actually the main thing that matters to me about Achievements.

    Best of luck on the Street Fighter V btw Michael (I also play that a lot)… I also completely agree with you about single player games very quickly feeling like work. From your tastes in videogames you might well be an Agoner 😉

  2. Hello, this was a good video. I have come across similar problems with arbitrary rep rewards and the reduction of commitment gameplay. I would only differentiate between infatuation gameplay and commitment gameplay when describing gameplay fluctuation. Great stuff!

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