Wednesday, February 1, 2012

25 Player Motivators

Well, since I don't have an interview ready to post up for you I thought I'd give you something else while I attempt to gather and stockpile a few for the upcoming weeks. In everything we do, there's a bundle of things that can either motivate us to continue doing something because we find it satisfying or de-motivate us into avoiding something because we find it dissatisfying. Increasing satisfaction increases player retention and interest. In truth, what one player finds sufficiently motivating that really draws them further into the game can actually be a complete de-motivator that makes another person drop out so this list isn't so simple. These are also ranked in no particular order of importance.

1. Recognition - either in-character or out-of-character. This could be for their skills, intelligence, or achievements. We rarely get enough of this in real life.

2. Social Reasons. An excuse to catch up with friends once a week, get out of the house, or otherwise socialise.

3. Catharsis. A way to get some emotional catharsis by experiencing second-hand tragedy or horror through the vehicle of a character.

4. Adrenaline. The thrill of the chase, the buzz of the hunt, and the fear of being caught. There's too few opportunities to get safe adrenaline in our world and some can get it through roleplaying.

5. Laughter. A chance to get the endorphins running through either tension-relieving laughter, in character banter, or out of character game references.

6. Power. Our lives are filled with compromise and a general sense of powerlessness. Whether it be political power or combat power, it's great to be able to make others bend to our wishes - even if only in a fictional universe.

7. Control. Again, our lives so often feel out of control, and the world all the more so, so some enjoy being able to bring their will to bear on the universe and be able to shape it - even if only from the shadows.

8. Exploration. Ever wanted to see another world? Or explore what might be? Or enjoy a historical era? Or perhaps simply peek into that exclusive nightclub you'll never get to enter? There's a lot of entertainment value in another person's imagination.

9. Doing what can't be done in real life. To fly to the heights of the world or swim the depths of the oceans. To experience telepathy or travel through time or murder with a sword.

10. Being impressive. This can also feed into the Power and Recognition motivators, but not always. A great dice roll or a brilliant plan can just make you feel like a real badass.

11. Using Skills You Don't Have. Ever wanted to sing so well you bring tears to their eyes? Or be a master at le parkeur? Or be a badass biker and win a bar room brawl? The chance to do this can bring some players back again and again.

12. Gazing through another person's eyes. What's it like to be a woman? Or a vampire? Or a lazer-shooting cowboy? Being able to actually 'get it' when it comes to another person's psychology can be deeply thrilling to some.

13. Free Choice. The main joy of a pen and paper role playing game is, well, the freedom. You can try anything. Even if you can't succeed.

14. Solving puzzles. The brain teasers can really keep bringing some player's back, whether police investigations or literal riddles and puzzles.

15. Genre Interest. They love the genre. They love the tropes. They want to engage with them on a more personal level.

16. OOC flexibility. Maybe it's plug and play and players can either rock up and play when they can or perhaps the game can be shifted to a time that suits them.

17. Regularity / Predictability. Some people are motivated to attend a game simply because it's become a habit. It's easy to go there and that works well for them.

18. Shared Interests and Expectations with other players can really boost satisfaction with the game.

19. Learning opportunities. Some people want to learn something new in the game. Whether to learn about people's psychology through NPC interaction, historical facts, or how a gun works.

20. Attachment. If players are attached to locations or characters in the game, they'll certainly be keen to keep coming back.

21. Ability to contribute.

22. Heroism / villainy / badassery.

23. Good, fun atmosphere. Basically, the happier the group is with the game and each other, the more enjoyable the game will generally be.

24. Casual vs. no OOC talk. Some players really enjoy a totally casual atmosphere and find restrictions, well, restrictive, while others are motivated by more serious games with rules against OOC chat.

25. Interesting IC conversations.


  1. Interesting. I'll have a think about this during my next game; a lot of my players aren't dyed-in-the-wool RPers so I'm interested in what makes them tick.

  2. You could always print this out and take it to the table with you. Players, like anyone really, aren't generally good at coming up with what appeals to them exactly, but they can point to stuff in a list.

    Funnily enough, I had a player who really didn't seem like much of a RPer in Crimson Throne but it was just the campaign. He's really come into his own now and is really coming into his own character-wise.