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.
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.