Stickiness: Why the Player Keeps Playing

Jul 23, 2009

There are 3 distinct time frames that need to be addressed:

  1. Moment-to-Moment – Something desirable always in reach, only a few seconds or actions away. Ammo packs, small groups of enemies, collectibles (coins or rings, toward an extra life or level completion), or simply enjoyable core movements (flying, clambering…). Moment-to-Moment appeal isn’t 100% necessary for a sufficiently patient and mature audience, but when it’s well done it has nearly universal appeal. Relevance here is measured seconds at a time.
  2. Objectives – Levels, objectives, or other passable goals that open and close during the game, but happen by making gradual progress. Earning new weapons/spells, vehicles, or party members fill this gap, as does gaining access to new areas by completing bosses and puzzles. These work best when they’ve visible and understood by the player well before they can be accomplished – as by establishing a pattern of expectation (big treasure chest, boss key, then boss; blue key, yellow key, red key), or giving story/visual cues of what to look forward to. Objectives give the player frequent, positive feedback that meaningful accomplishments are happening during play. Relevance here is measured minutes or hours at a time.
  3. Game-Long Goals – This is usually story driven, and happens by a combination of closure (resolution of conflict/ailment) and/or endowing the player with virtual significance (often, feeling like a hero). In abstract games, it may simply come in the form of feeling good about overcoming all of the game’s challenges, finishing thoroughly what was started, without having given up before the end. Game-Long Goals are often the most memorable, but offer the least replayability. Relevance here follows the course of the entire game.

(Originally posted as part of Vol. 4 Sec. 2)

Este artículo está disponible en español. Traducción por cortesía de Andrés de Pedro.

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