What makes games compelling?

kidsWhat is it about games that holds our interest and keeps us playing? Games are compelling in so many ways; they can

  • make our progress visible
  • unlock new content, experience and powers
  • connect us socially to people we care about
  • offer intellectual, sensory and physical stimulation that keeps us sharp

Character transformation is the backbone of great drama – and personal transformation is the backbone of great gameplay. At their core, games deliver a learn→pratice→mastery arc that’s deeply, intrinsically motivating. In games, WE are the protagonist – the person with agency,  facing a series of choices and challenges along a meaningful journey.

Games are pleasurable learning engines. It feels good  to engage our brains and get better at something. Think about the series of experiences you have while learning, playing and mastering a game (or game-like service). Over time you absorb the rules, build your skills, tackle ever-greater challenges – and if the game is deep and interesting, you’re transformed in some way by playing.

To make your product or service truly compelling and game-like, forget points – think character transformation. Try sketching out how you’ll deliver a transformative Player Journey using onboarding, habit-building and mastery. Once you know the skill you’re building, and the overall shape of the journey, you can confidently light your player’s path to mastery – and deliver a truly compelling experience.

In my next few posts, I’ll layout the core Player’s Journey framework, and then deep-dive into  three key stages: onboarding, habit-building, and mastery. I’m excited to share these powerful tools with you – honed on the front lines of startup & game development. Stay tuned – and please share your burning questions, wacky ideas and battle-hardened stories in the comments.