Pogány, Dániel: Motivation in virtual worlds

The analysis of the motivation system of gamification from a ludological point of view

Video game developers often find themselves faced with the same questions as psychologists working in the field of motivation research. For example, such a question could be, how a given behavior energizes and how that energization is maintained from then on. Translating this into the world of games, why someone plays games and how they can be convinced not to stop playing. Developers have been searching for answers to these questions since the 1960’s, continuously adding new theories and mechanics into their games. For this reason, it was logical that motivational research would close in on videogames, the result of which was the birth of the theory of gamification. But it seems, the central questions and theories of research dealing with videogames, only rarely turn up within research of gamification. In this research, as a sort of problem solving essay, I deal with the question of how specific terminology and the often self-serving discourse from ludology can help researchers and employers within the field of gamification.

In the first part of the study, we read about the main theories relating to intrinsic motivation, as well as their experimental backgrounds. It will also mention the birth of gamification, its broader use and the problems that have arisen since then. To understand the foundation and the problems regarding this theory, in the second part of the essay we first read about the narrative structure of videogames, which we then connect to elements of gamification in the structure of video games and its motivational background. Finally, in the last part of the essay, as a form of feedback, we clarify how intrinsic motivation that we introduced during the theoretical background can be established, and why it cannot do without elements of paidia.

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