top of page

Invictus English Department - Kinver Student Blog

Each month, Invictus Director of English, Miss Hall, invites year 9-11 students to send in BLOG entries based on certain topics. Look out for the next topic on your VLE (Space, Ello, Edge, Aspire, More +, Wise) and send your entries on to Miss Hall (

Miss Hall then selects a BLOG from each school to appear on each schools website!

Well done Harry, and happy reading everyone!

Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivation in game design

When designing any kind of game, a key hurdle to overcome in the design process is motivating the player to engage with the experience. Because, in game design, it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into a mechanic or system if your player doesn’t care about interacting with those systems.

This is where motivation comes into play, whereby building stick-and-carrot mechanics a designer can influence the way a player interacts with their game, and there are 2 main types of motivation used most often in modern triple A game design, those being extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation – most often connected to an extrinsically designed game – is a school of thought in which a player is motivated to interact with a game due to an incentive – such as experience points, skins, unlocks, premium currency, prestige etc. Extrinsic motivation is most often employed in games which have simple and repetitive mechanics which the player engages with often, such as a hack-and-slash combat system or managing workers a la the Sims. Extrinsic motivation is the most common form of motivation used in modern game design, and has been used since the dawn of the medium, with almost all early games using a scoring system to track a player’s progress. In modern design, however, the extrinsic model has evolved to more closely resemble the tabletop RPGs that inspired it, with most marketing teams even referring to the practice as including “RPG elements”. Examples of genres that use this style to its full effect would be FPS, particularly the recent genre of battle royale games and their popularization of the battle pass format, JRPGs, such as Bravely Default and Persona 5, and ARPGs, such as the Witcher series by CD Projekt Red.

Intrinsic motivation is a less common but still well known school of game design in which the player themselves creates a reason to engage with the mechanics of a game. This is often much harder to successfully pull off than extrinsic design, and if unsuccessful can leave a game feeling boring and unsatisfying. But if carefully implemented and intertwined with other carefully designed and interconnected systems, an intrinsically designed game can lead to jaw-droppingly high skill ceilings as players themselves create reasons to interact with and improve their craft in a game – often a game’s implementation of intrinsic motivation is a deciding factor in whether it is considered an esport, as intrinsic motivation often goes hand-in-hand with wildly varying player skill. Ultimately, intrinsic motivation is about motivating players to want to improve their own skill at a game, instead of achieving a set goal or earning a reward, making it – as previously stated – incredibly hard to do right. Intrinsic motivation is best used in games that have a low number of incredibly complex and high intensity mechanics, such as fighting games, such as Street Fighter or Killer Instinct, or even management games such a Cities: Skylines.

Though up until now I’ve presented these 2 schools of design as polar opposites, as if games can only employ extrinsic or intrinsic motivation, and that any overlap between them is impossible. However, this is simply not true, s most games employ a mix of both styles. Most shooters combine an inherent desire in players to improve their skills with a level progression reminiscent of modern ARPGs. And some fighting games use intrinsic motivation primarily but also employ premium currencies, progressions and skins to incentivize players to spend more time playing their game. So in conclusion, when designing games it’s important that designers remember that a player won’t often engage with a game on their terms, and that motivation is as key as any other mechanic that they have in their games. However, it’s also important to remember that a satisfying progression isn’t always a sign of a good game, so ensuring that the process by which players interact with the worlds and stories a designer crafts are created with as much care.

74 views0 comments


bottom of page