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Drives: Helping More Players Get from First-Taste to Satisfaction


Jason VandenBerghe (Design Director, ArenaNet)

Location: Room 2014, West Hall

Date: Wednesday, March 21

Time: 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design, Business & Marketing

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: Intermediate

Drives: those creepy, almost-chemical urges that sometimes seem to be beyond your control: "What's in the chest?" "Why yes, I would like to complete my collection." "Ow! NOW I CRAVE VENGEANCE!"

Often, designers approach this topic with tongs and a hazmat suit. Rightfully! They want to avoid triggering addiction, or manipulating their players more than they would like. The speaker will argue that drive stimulation has a clear, positive purpose: to get players through the often-painful journey into skill development, entering a social context, and/or establishing autonomy.

All successful games follow this pattern: every one.

As a bonus, a significant portion of this talk will deal with the recently-discovered drive called "Tend & Befriend." This oxytocin-based drive has to do with the short-term reward systems that encourages you to make friends and care for others...and has the potential to revolutionize game design (if it hasn't already).

(This talk is the fourth in the quite-poorly-named Engines of Play Trilogy.)


A clear understanding of the role of drives in player engagement, and a concrete understanding of several of the main drives that underpin gameplay and game design. This will help designers organize their design to align with their project intention, instead of simply designing via a scatter-gun approach. There will also be a detailed introduction to the Tend & Befriend motive, which has significant implications for most types of play, and for non-violent play in particular.

Intended Audience

Designers, producers, and other game developers interested in the player's internal experience of motivation during play. Audience members should already have a passing familiarity with the basics of player motivation (SDT/PENS, Big5/Bartle/Lazarro, etc).