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Games as Need-Fulfilment

 

Disciplines > Game Design > Games as Need-Fulfilment

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

We all have deep needs that drive much of what we do. Games can be clearly viewed with this lens, with which it can be seen how significant and useful this comparison is. For example:

  • The essentially harmless nature of games gives a sense of safety.
  • Games create novelty and so stimulate interest and enjoyment.
  • Social games create a sense of belonging.
  • Winning games helps boost our esteem (both self-esteem and the accolade we get from others).
  • Rewards build a sense of achievement.
  • The rules of the game help ensure fairness.

Example

When a teenager plays a video fighting, there is satisfaction of needs for control plus stimulation and safety at the same time. Although they can 'risk death', this is only in the simulated scenario.

A pool player satisfies their need for control with a great deal of practice. They then boost identity needs by doing well in club competitions.

Discussion

Needs are fundamental human drivers and, while we may be seeking specific goals or other intent, beneath these are always the aim to satisfy basic needs.

The reason for playing games can be examined using the CIA Needs Model.

Control

Games are largely about control. In games such as chess there is no luck and everything is down to our own skill. In video games, the control of avatars and objects is also found to be pleasurable.

In gambling, there may be no real control, but gamblers still believe they have some mysterious ability and just need to court luck. If they can do this, they can control their fate.

Identity

When we play deeply with a game we connect it to our sense of self as we 'become the game' and after a good game we emerge feeling good.

Identity is also boosted in the relationships we form with other players. We can be friends with them, we can be admired by them, we can feel superior and achieve a higher status.

Arousal

Games are stimulating, hence helping our arousal needs as they engage and challenge us. If a game is not arousing, then it is probably a pretty poor game.

Challenging games like chess stimulate cognitive arousal. Video games can stimulate emotional arousal. Physical arousal can be gained through games such as football.

See also

Needs, The CIA Needs Model

 

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