Game Development Reference
be all the motivation they need. For others a more cerebral challenge moti-
vates them to play and they will look for games that deliver this more
thoughtful style of gameplay.
Whatever the gameplay style, the writing and design must again fit
together well if the motivation and conflict in the story is to complement
that of the gameplay and keep the player's interest high enough to play
through the game.
How this parallel motivation might be developed is shown in the following
example. The player has been progressing through the game with a sidekick
fighting alongside the player character. At the end of a particular level the
sidekick is captured, which not only changes the character's motivation in a
story sense, but also has an effect on the gameplay - the player must now play
the game without the sidekick until a rescue can be made.The gameplay has
unexpected variety and offers a different challenge because of the increased
conflict the character - and player - now has to endure.The motivation of the
player to get the sidekick character back as a gameplay aid matches the
motivation of the player character in the story to rescue the partner.
Looking at the above, we can see that conflict has been created by an
expectation gap (the player did not expect the sidekick to be captured),
which is at the heart of how successfully it works.The impact of the expec-
tation gap on the player will depend very much on how he is identifying
with the main character and, in this case, the sidekick. If there is no empathy
for the characters and no interest in their relationship, their motivations will
mean nothing and the player just moves onto the next level with interest
only in the gameplay.Again, it comes down to how well the many aspects are
woven into a complete whole.
Conflict through the use of the expectation gap must be balanced with a
series of rewards for the player. Do not lose sight of the fact that the game
must feel and play like a game. Without rewards to give a regular sense of
achievement, the motivation to keep playing the game will dwindle, no
matter how dramatic the plot or character interactions are. In the example
above, if the sidekick is captured and the player is left with a feeling of failure
with no idea of what to do next, then they may feel there is no reason to
continue with the game, particularly if it is the latest in a series of setbacks.
The loss of a main character is clearly a major setback, but if the player
discovers the antagonist's operational base in the process, the reward not only
keeps the player motivated, but the story also moves forward. The player and
character are both motivated because they have new goals and a means of