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The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

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Lesson 3 of 10
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The Game is Made for a Player / The Experience is in the Player’s Mind / The Player’s Mind is Driven by the Player’s Motivation

Matthew Colon October 14, 2020
  1. What age and gender demographics are you targeting with your project? How have those demographics responded to your project?
  2. What game pleasures do you enjoy, and what game pleasures do you hope to provide in your project?
  3. From Bartle’s taxonomy, what player type best matches you (achiever, explorer, socializer, killer)? Does your player type correspond with the player types you are targeting with your project?
  4. What’s an example of a game that put you in a flow state? What about that game made that possible?
  5. What’s an example of a game that made you feel emotion? What about that game made that possible?
  6. What’s an example of a game that let your imagination run wild compared to what was shown to you? What about that game made that possible?


Pick some of the lenses below and discuss their questions in regards to your own game projects:

Lens #19: The Lens of the Player

  • In general, what do they like?
  • What don’t they like? Why?
  • What do they expect to see in a game?
  • If I were in their place, what would I want to see in a game?
  • What would they like or dislike about my game in particular?

Lens #20: The Lens of Pleasure

  • What pleasures does your game give to players? Can these be improved?
  • What pleasures are missing from your experience? Why? Can they be added?

Lens #21: The Lens of Flow

  • Does my game have clear goals? If not, how can I fix that?
  • Are the goals of the player the same goals I intended?
  • Are there parts of the game that distract players to the point they forget their goal? If so, can these distractions be reduced or tied into the game goals?
  • Does my game provide a steady stream of not-too-easy, not-too-hard challenges, taking into account the fact that the player’s skills may be gradually improving?
  • Are the player’s skills improving at the rate I had hoped? If not, how can I change that?

Lens #22: The Lens of Needs

  • On which levels of Maslow’s hierarchy is my game operating?
  • Does it fill the needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness?
  • How can I make my game fill more basic needs than it already does?
  • For the needs my game is already filling, how can it fill those needs even better?

Lens #23: The Lens of Motivation

  • What motivations do players have to play my game?
  • Which motivations are most internal? Which are most external?
  • Which are pleasure seeking? Which are pain avoiding?
  • Which motivations support each other?
  • Which motivations are in conflict?

Lens #24: The Lens of Novelty

  • What is novel about my game?
  • Does my game have novelties throughout or just at the beginning?
  • Do I have the right mix of the novel and the familiar?
  • When the novelty wears off, will players still enjoy my game?

Lens #25: The Lens of Judgment

  • What does your game judge about the players?
  • How does it communicate this judgment?
  • Do players feel the judgment is fair?
  • Do they care about the judgment?
  • Does the judgment make them want to improve?