Friday, August 29, 2014

The Gamer Motivation Map

Over on the Roludo forums, Thalaba - AKA +Apochriphal Chris on G+ - came up with a sweet way to look at games, gamers and GMs, called the Gamer Motivation Map. It looks something like this. It describes the kind of games we like to play from the standpoint of what we like most about them. Notice that he has used the word 'forward'. This intended to suggest that these things are not mutually exclusive, but that we tend to prioritize one over the others.

1. Action-Forward gamers are gamers that like to focus on the things our characters can do in the game. They tend to be all about abilities, stunts, feats, and so on. Character advancement involves improving these abilities. D&D, Agon, and basic Savage Worlds are the kind of games that would satisfy an Action-Forward gamer. An action-forward gamer can happily play a character just from the stats and doesn't need to know about deep motivations, personalities, or backgrounds.

2. Character-Forward gamers are gamers that focus on who the chararacter is, rather than on what he or she does. They're all about the 'me'. They like big backgrounds, storylines to be developed and resolved around their character, and pets that they can control. Games like Vampire, Exalted, and Ars Magica appeal to these people. Character-Forward gamers like to have powers - not because of what abilities they grant, but because of how it makes them special.

3. Setting-Forward gamers are people who like to explore alternate worlds and milieus. Like Character-Forward gamers, their characters are all about who they are, but really they're about who they are in the context of the setting. They can happily create a reasonably bland character and then let that character grow into the setting as they learn more about it. They tend to like descriptions of places more. Games with rich settings or with rules that create characters that are very integral to the setting are preferred, like, for example, RuneQuest or Artesia.

4. Story-Forward gamers are most interested in what happens during the game, rather that who their character is or the nuts and bolts of what they can do. They can even feel happy about their character dying, so long as it happens in a dramatic and cool way. They will also happily play multiple characters in a single session. They like games that give them the ability to affect how the story unfolds.

5. Genre-Forward gamers really want games that recreate a specific intellectual property. They don't just want a character - they want a character from that particular show. Character motives and actions are secondary to genre. Settings and stories are tightly controlled by the genre. Examples, I suppose, would be The One Ring and Trail of Cthulhu.

To fully use the map, distribute nine points over the five categories, in a standard RPG point allocation way. The way you apportion your points not only tells folks what is most important to you, but *how* important it is relative to the others. Also, you can map your own preferences as a player, GM, and designer. My map is:


Action-Forward 1
Story-Forward 0
Character-Forward 4
Setting-Forward 3
Genre-Forward 1

So, I'm the kind of player you hate - focused on my character and how the setting relates to my character, and willing to go off on my own for what seems the flimsiest of reasons. This is why I don't play much. I *know* I'm bad!


Action-Forward 1
Story-Forward 1
Character-Forward 1
Setting-Forward 3
Genre-Forward 3

Different story here! As a GM I let the players alone, allowing them to push their characters or not. Setting and Genre are what I push, and I push them hard.


Action-Forward 1
Story-Forward 0
Character-Forward 4
Setting-Forward 2
Genre-Forward 2

 And different here as well! As a game designer, I put a *lot* of emphasis on character generation, little on in-game mechanics, none on story, and split the balance between Genre and Setting on average, though which is dominant depends on the game I'm designing. Tools of Ignorance and High Strung are both Genre dominant, and Volant and Outremer are both Setting dominant, for example.

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