What’s your Gamer Motivation Profile?

Why do we play video games? For some it’s the challenge, facing difficult situations and having to think several steps ahead in order to beat an opponent. For others it’s the discovery side that appeals, the ability to explore new worlds and experiment with the items held within them.

And for others it’s the community side that draws them in, being part of a team and interacting with others who are on a similar wavelength. It could be a mixture of all of these reasons or something else entirely, and our motivations aren’t always easy to define.

That’s where Quantic Foundry comes in: a game analytics consulting practice that combines social and data science to understand what drives gamers. Over 250,000 individuals around the world have completed their Gamer Motivation Profile survey and earlier this month, they published an interesting summation of their findings.

While men are most often driven to compete, women are motivated to complete and people of non-binary gender want to explore fantasies. Although there’s a roughly equal split when it comes to male and female gamers, the industry itself still appears to be dominated by men; the findings are therefore useful when it comes to understanding our motivations and further break down any preconceptions about who plays video games and why.

Competition was shown to be the primary motivation for gamers aged between 13 and 25 while it dropped nine places for those aged over 36. The consultancy practice mentions that this is a trend they’ve come across previously and the appeal of competition declines the most rapidly with age: could this be a result of reduced reaction times and not being as quick as we used to be? Ben discussed this subject in one of his recent posts and his thoughts seem to correlate with Quantic Foundry’s results.

Dreamfall Chapters, The Longest Journey, video game, Zoe, lights, mountains, Dreamtime, horizon

My personal Gamer Motivation Profile showed that my gaming style is ‘calm, spontaneous, completionist, independent, deeply immersed and practical’. Fantasy and story came out as the top motivations with Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey, Grim Fandango, Fable and Mass Effect appearing in the list of games recommended for me. The survey seems to generate some pretty accurate findings: the titles mentioned are all ones I’ve played and loved, and I do like to ‘explore a game world just for the sake of exploring it’.

One of the most interesting takeaways from the report is that completion was the only motivation to consistently appear in the top three for all gender and age groups. This means that it’s a very low-risk, high-reward motivation – something for developers to seriously ponder over. As stated by Quantic Foundry:

It helps explain why games that emphasise completion, such as Pokèmon Go, can be so broadly appealing across different demographic segments, especially when these games also steer away from motivations that are more volatile and polarising, such as competition.

So what motivates you to play video games? For more findings and to complete the survey yourself to see how you compare to other gamers, head other to Quantic Foundry’s blog.

Healwatch

After taking a few months off Overwatch, I’ve returned to find it an interesting game to have been a part of since release. In the first weeks matches felt very scrappy, especially if you were part of a pick-up group.

Players were still trying out various characters, learning their strengths and weaknesses as well as discovering tactics that would best serve the map and mode. If I’m honest the Play of the Game mechanic didn’t help too much either as at the time, the algorithms appeared to focus on kill streaks more than anything else which in turn caused players to concentrate too much on their own goals rather than the team’s.

Matches now are a much changed thing. Players clearly have their preferred characters and roles which has made the experience much more balanced. Blizzard’s masterstroke of unlocking everything from the start means that the only advantage long-term devotees have is skill (and experience) rather than equipment so newcomers know that defeats aren’t down to superior gear. It also means that even in pick-up groups you know you should be in for a decent match because everyone will gravitate to their favourite role and as a general rule, the teams are much more balanced.

As you can imagine front line attackers and long distance snipers are the classes of choice which is absolutely fine by me because I like to heal. Yes, that’s right, the annoying Mercy who zips around the team healing, boosting and resurrecting is me. And I love it.

Support players, especially healers, appear to be in the minority and I take a real pleasure from sitting in the midfield, healing the tanks and attackers from a relatively safe distance before boosting the snipers to help them pick off the last few stragglers after a successful team push forward. It’s the same satisfaction from a 3+ team resurrection that can swing the tide of a fight just enough to win a match.

So if you ever need a healer, feel free to look me up.

Where have all the Christmas-themed games gone?

Christmas movies are such a big part of the overall holiday experience. Whether it’s watching Elf on the evening before while waiting for Santa to arrive, hitting the sofa on the big day to laugh through Home Alone with another glass of mulled wine, or trying to swallow down that lump in your throat when angel Clarence gets his wings in It’s a Wonderful Life: the season just wouldn’t be complete without our festive favourites.

We’ve come to expect the launch of a couple of films decked in tinsel-and-fairy-lights each December, alongside the release of the gaming industry’s grandest and most-anticipated titles. So how come incredibly few of them are festive in any way whatsoever? Where have all the Christmas-themed video games gone?

A quick look at 2016’s big-budget offerings doesn’t yield much in the way of seasonal good tidings. Dead Rising 4 may be high on many gamers’ wishlists but it’s not going to give you the same fuzzy feels as Love Actually. Steep may fare a little better with its gorgeous backdrop of evergreens and snow but it’s far behind The Snowman in the festive stakes. And although The Last Guardian may have a lovely, fairytale-like quality to it, you’ll find yourself riding a giant dog-bird-cat-thing rather than a reindeer.

While there are more relevant options in the indie category, there’s still a lot to be desired when it comes to quality. You could ‘team up with the world’s biggest goblin on his quest for gold and be a total Christmas bastard’ in The Night Christmas Ended; or perhaps joining Tom de Cat, master swordsman, in his ‘one cat stand against the Turkey menace’ in The Turkey of Christmas Past will be more to your liking. Unfortunately, it seems as if neither big or indie developers will give us the video-game-equivalent of A Christmas Carol this year.

Maybe the lack of good Christmas-themed titles has something to do with the perception of a video game’s worth being closely linked to its length. As an example, consider The Order: 1886: although widely acknowledged as one of the best-looking console games ever upon its release in February 2015, it received many negative reviews for a comparatively short gameplay time of five to six hours. As mentioned by Ben Kuchera in an article for Polygon:

Many players demand longer games as a sign of value, where more hours for the money is a better bargain and thus a better product.

Whether that view is right or wrong is a separate subject and regardless: it makes developing a seasonal title an extremely tricky project. You’ll need to produce something that’s going to deliver many hours of quality entertainment in order to meet expectations; but bigger games result in more potential for delays and whatever you do, you can’t miss your holiday deadline. On top of all that, you’ll need to persuade gamers to continue playing and completing a title featuring Santa once the lighter days of spring come back around – perhaps an almost impossible task. It’s easy to see why many developers opt for festive downloadable content (DLC) rather than a fully-fledged seasonal game.

Does that mean I’ll be resorting to one of the many Christmas-tagged DLC packs available on Steam? I think I’ll go for a game unrelated to the day instead, but which never fails gets me in the festive mood. Give me something with a bit of fantasy like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Fable, a plateful of mince pies, a cosy blanket and my other half, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the holidays.

Whatever you’re playing this Christmas, have fun!   🎄

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas carol may say ‘tis the season to be jolly, and time off from work or school gives everyone the opportunity to catch up with friends and family. But there’s an added bonus for us gamers: it’s also a few days to rally together with our teammates, reach for the nearest controller and nail a couple of headshots before downing another mince pie.

It’s a time for curling up on the sofa with new video games from Santa, poring through the Steam catalogue for bargains (as if your backlog wasn’t big enough), having one hand on the joypad while the other is in the chocolate box – and even roping your mum into having a go on a first-person shooter (FPS) once she’s had a sherry or two.

We hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas day and found everything you wished for in your stockings – and haven’t blown all of your money on the sales already.

Merry Christmas!   🎅

Nintendo Go!

With Nintendo officially due to enter the world of smartphone-gaming in the next couple of weeks with Super Mario Run, I’ve been recently been musing over some other possible games they should consider releasing.

The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, video game, Link, dungeon, chest

I’m thinking Puzzle-Quest-meets-A-Link-to-the-Past here. Not the current, messy versions of Puzzle Quest that seem stuffed full of in-app purchases but a Challenge-of-the-Warlords-esque adventure: one where Link could travel from location to location, battling classic monsters and bosses and using classic Zelda weapons to affect the board. The Hookshot could pull gems of a certain colour from the play area, or the bomb could detonate and collect a large amount of jewels in a single hit. A simple title to understand but tough to master and unlock all the secrets, just like in the console versions.

Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker, video game, level, Mario, platforms, mushrooms, sky

Since 2007, Apple has sold a billion iPhones. A billion. Even allowing 80% for retained customers who recycle their phone into new models, that still leaves about 200-million handsets out there in the wild. Now imagine if millions and millions of those users were making levels for Super Mario Run; then imagine if they were sharing them… the prospects are mindblowing.

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing, A New Leaf, video game, friends, park, bench, grass, flowers

Animal Crossing would work just fine as it is. Maybe refine the controls a little and perhaps a fishing or bug-catching mini-game, but apart from that I’d say it wouldn’t need many changes. Again, the benefits of millions of connected users sharing clothing designs and home interiors could be a perfect match.

Donkey Konga

Donkey Konga, video game, Donkey Kong, monkey, music, beat, song, drums

Do you remember the GameCube title Donkey Konga? It was Nintendo’s foray into the rhythm genre and every copy came with a pair of bongo-drums in the famous shape of the Donkey Kong barrels. Up to four people could play and as you might expect, players just had to pat the larger or smaller drum in time to classic themes. It’s the sort of game that would be easy to translate onto a smartphone: tap along with one, two, three or four fingers to a selection of downloadable tunes.

And others…

An augmented-reality (AR) Luigi’s Mansion or Metroid-meets-Fruit-Ninja? What games would you like to see?

Memories of a PlayStation

Strange to think I’ve been a PlayStation gamer for 20 years now. That’s two decades of my life having owned a Sony console. It’s not been an exclusive relationship of course; I’ve been in an even longer arrangement with Nintendo and have flirted with SEGA and Microsoft in the past.

Who knows? Had it not been for the acrimonious split with me and my 360 over a red ring of death and £40 postage just so they could ‘assess’ my console, I might still be an Xbox owner today.

The PlayStation will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first console I saved up for and bought myself. In fact, it was the first console I owned at all. My parents had flatly refused during the NES era and the ban continued into my teenage years when the SNES and Mega Drive were in their pomp. I did, however, manage to secure a concession by way of a Game Boy for which I am still grateful for today. Despite the wonders of the handheld there had always been something magical about gathering around a screen at a friend’s house, passing the controller around and watching adventures unfold. So as soon as could afford a console, I did.

I splurged the majority of the first pay-cheque from my student job on a PlayStation. God knows how many pints I had to pull to earn the £300 or so that I needed but it was more than worth it.

That small, grey box was incredibly well made and I have so many fond memories of it. I was in a house-share at the time I bought it so went all-in on the multiplayer side, picking up a bundle that included the v-shaped four player ‘Multitap’ adapter, a copy of International Track & Field and Micro Machines V3. To this day I still consider the former to be one of the best competitive couch-multiplayer titles ever made.

A series of broken controllers would no doubt beg to differ.

It wasn’t just multiplayer as the single-player library is arguably one of the greatest out there. Final Fantasy VIII remains my absolute favourite game on the system, closely followed by Vagrant Story. I still revisit both regularly on the Vita as the gameplay still holds up as well today as it did back then. But there were so many other great experiences too – catching apes with a DualShock controller was a revelation, as was sneaking through the snow on Shadow Moses. You could zip through futuristic WipeOut racetracks at full pelt with The Chemical Brothers blasting out from the TV before changing the pace and playing a full Test Match in Brian Lara Cricket. Brilliant.

The PlayStation was the console that laid the foundations for today’s booming market and modern successes owe a lot to Sony’s great, grey machine. That first pay-cheque was money well spent indeed.

How about you? What are your memories of the PlayStation, or are you discovering some of those great games today?