G4C Game Slam: When Rewards Attack

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A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak in a "Game Slam" at the Games4Change conference.  The session was modeled after PechaKucha and other microtalks.  Each of the twelve speakers had exactly 4 minutes to talk about whatever they'd like, related hopefully to game design and Games4Change.

Since GDC 2010, I've had a bee in my bonnet about motivation and rewards in video games.  Chris Hecker gave a great talk at GDC that questioned achievements systems and suggested, based on decades of psychology and education research, that certain kinds of rewards can actually decrease the ability and motivation (read: fun, in a game) of the player.

It was a compelling argument, and then I had to face it directly as we started to tackle an advancement system for Gamestar Mechanic that includes achievements. 

I considered two topics: one thinking about the various levels at which action within the game and action by the player can align (or not), and this.  Practicality won: I wanted not only to discuss this with others, but to come up with some sort of solution.

So here is my game slam talk in several forms:
Interestingly, several of the speakers spoke around the topic of motivation and extrinsic/exogenous rewards.  I don't know whether Nick Fortugno, Jesper Juul, or Naomi Clark will post their talks, but if they do, they're part of the same conversation.  Many thanks to Richard LeMarchand and Colleen Macklin for inviting my newbie self to speak.

One more thing about that talk.  I really like the microtalk format, at least when there's plenty of time to then talk with the speakers.  Preparing a microtalk is like writing a sonnet or haiku: you've got to figure out the absolute core of what you really want to say, and then craft a presentation of it which is richly allusive and wastes not a word or thought.  I changed the emphasis of this talk four times as I figured out what the real heart of the issue was, and how I could present that within four minutes.

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This page contains a single entry by Scott Price published on June 15, 2010 11:52 AM.

Serious Games are Getting Serious was the previous entry in this blog.

G4C Talk: "Top 10 Mistakes People make in ... Production" is the next entry in this blog.

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