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The Possession Principle

 

Disciplines > Game Design > Principles > The Possession Principle

Principle | Action | Discussion | See also

 

Principle

We like to own things.

Action

Give the ability within the game to acquire, collect and otherwise own things.

Ways to do this include:

  • Methods and opportunities for finding, earning, receiving, buying, exchange or otherwise acquiring things.
  • Collecting sets of things that give further advantage once the set is complete.
  • Gaining points, coupons or money that can be used to buy things.
  • Systems where people can show off the things they own.

Discussion

One of our deep needs is to possess. We are an acquisitive species, as can be seen in the clutter around our homes and the way we collect everything from picture cards to antiques. The process of discovery and acquisition is at the heart of many games.

We can also seek to possess other people. This can be seen when a person talks about 'my' family, employees, army, and so on. An important part of possession is the ability to control, which we tend to enjoy. Possession of others may also bring responsibility and the need to protect and defend.

The need to possess drives the fear of loss. When we fear losing something we jealously desire it more and seek to protect it. This sub-principle can be used to add tension to a game, for example through forfeiting items or 'stealing'.

Possession fuels other drivers, such as the need for status. When we own things we can show them off to others, demonstrating our prowess and power, and hence gaining the admiration of others.

See also

The Need to Possess, The Status Principle

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