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This is a list of 6 mental motivators for human brains, created with the objective of pleasuring and motivating people to take action and to work on life-related jobs. In this case, I apply it specifically in digital gaming.

Posted by thiago.attianesi on Mar 24th, 2012

6 steps to play with player's mind

Open your mind, but be CAREFUL!
This is a list of 6 mental motivators for human brains, created with the objective of pleasuring and motivating people to take action and to work on life-related jobs. In this case, I apply it specifically in digital gaming.

1) Experience Bar (Progress Measuring) – Experience bars record the progress, something that Jesse Schell really emphasized. The idea of not rewarding the player for his achievements (tests, tasks, objectives) but by always getting 1xp, for any action. This invokes a notion of always evolving.

2) Multiple Tasks (Long and short-term) Getting 10.000 special cards is boring, getting 10 especial cards, is fun. And to get the 10 cards there is several small different tasks. Finding one, fight for other, studying to get another, and by getting them all, the objective of collecting is done. Short objectives together sums up to a long one, and it’s all worth it. The complex quest is split in important pieces, so that people can grasp it with the limited human vision and feel encouraged to win.

3) Effort Reward* (All efforts are rewarded) Every time something is done, it is won credit, experience, money, pieces, blood, souls, mana, power... not just for completing, but also for trying. You don’t punish faults, but reward every little effort with small rewards, but instant ones.

4) Feedback to the player (Clear, quick, clean) This is absolutely necessary. The best example is to note that people don’t relate acts to consequences and the human brain needs this to worry. Pollution, global warming, flooding, public violence are problems caused by us too, but the guilt is shared, the manifestation is small, it stays out of the human worry, the consequences are distant in space and time, it’s hard to learn a lesson from this. By direct and quick feedback they can understand, learn and change very fast.

5) The element of uncertainty (Neurologic secret, the magical reward of the brain) - An known effort delights people, but an effort with variable possibilities fascinates the brain, makes it sparkle. Dopamine is associated with an “effort-search” behavior, so if the player have to save a tree to get a card, and by saving the tree, he also saves, unexpectedly, a bird that accompanies him in his travels, this fascinates the player in a high manner.

6) Social Network (other people are exciting) - What really excites the player the most are other people, in terms of effort, not money. In the sense of people seeing, commenting, participating, working together. The Social Network organizes and carry on games by itself: it creates items, expansions, patches, websites to improve what was done by the network. In a collaborative effect, they thrill, in a “competition” sense, they also try harder and hotter to keep up trying and growing. Competition balanced with comparison are keywords here.
The power you get by using this 6 characterics is huge. It’s really powerful in the good and bad sense. Whether for education, conscience or entertainment, as in for addiction, domination and control of the mental faculties influenced by centuries of evolution of the human brain to a better life, survival and interaction of our race.
The use of these gimmicks can be cruel, or they can be a mind treat. Be careful and respectful when using them. I could even cite some of the bad uses of these, but I’ll refrain to talk about this because of that little thing called ‘ethics’ that I don’t like very much.


Influence mentor Jesse Schell
Pictures: Google Images and Weheartit

Translated by Anderson Canafistula

By Thiago Attianesi

Post comment Comments
ZeusLT Mar 25 2012 says:


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thiago.attianesi Author
thiago.attianesi Mar 25 2012 replied:

I am trying to organize the posts all in articles, not tutorials.

Desura staff tip.

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b5cully Aug 29 2012 says:

I always liked getting a reward for a task, then experience an unexpected consequence from it
I think another good point for making a game fun is to give the player the possibility to experience the game from different roles: like, this round I'm going to be a wizard, but next time I'll just go as a knight; Or: this time I'll be sneaky and undetected, next time I'll just be the next rambo.

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thelastinuit Sep 24 2012 says:

Do you think it will be 6 general steps? I mean, is there any missing step for a specific genre?
Sorry, I just love experiments and so far I can't think of any, your step since to cover all games.

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