Exploring the Art of Choice in Game Design Technique: Plant Picker vs. Poison Picker

In the realm of game design, understanding how to engage players is key to creating memorable experiences. In this article post, we’re going to explore two distinct game design techniques (GT): the “Plant Picker (GT #11)” and the “Poison Picker (GT #89).” Both these techniques are part of Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback, in the Octalysis Framework.

Understanding the Concept of Choice in Games

Choice is a fundamental aspect of human experience, and its integration in games is no less significant. Players generally prefer games that offer choices over linear, predictable gameplay. This brings us to two ways of integrating choices in games: meaningful choices (Plant Picker) and the feeling of choice (Poison Picker).

Plant Picker: The Essence of Meaningful Choices

Plant Picker: This term refers to a design technique where players are given meaningful choices that significantly impact the game’s outcome. These choices are substantial and lead to different consequences or paths in the gameplay. For example, in a strategy game, choosing to build one type of unit over another could drastically change the player’s ability to overcome challenges, thereby affecting the overall strategy and experience. The term “Plant Picker” is derived from the idea of choosing what plants to grow in a garden, where each choice (like different plants) has distinct outcomes and growth patterns.

The concept of the Plant Picker is central to creating a game where choices genuinely impact the player’s journey. It’s not just about providing options; it’s about ensuring these choices have real consequences and add value to the gaming experience.

When we talk about meaningful choices in games, we look at how diverse the players’ approaches can be. For instance, in the game “Plants vs. Zombies,” players must choose from a variety of plants, each with unique abilities, to defend against zombie invasions. This choice isn’t superficial; it fundamentally alters the way the game is played. This kind of strategic depth is what makes a game engaging and replayable.

When players encounter a Plant Picker scenario, they feel genuinely in control of their game journey. This could be selecting strategies, pathways, or responses that significantly alter the game’s progression. Such choices enrich the gaming experience, making each playthrough unique and player-specific.

Poison Picker: The Perception of Choice

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10 Most Legendary Mobile Games

Day 213 - Temple Run

In the realm of digital entertainment, mobile gaming has emerged as a colossal titan, bringing immersive experiences to the fingertips of billions worldwide. With the rise of smartphones and app ecosystems, a myriad of games have vied for the attention of users. However, only a select few have etched their names into the annals of gaming history. These titles, with their innovative mechanics, compelling narratives, and cultural impact, have not only set industry benchmarks but have also reshaped the way we perceive and interact with games on our devices. Join us as we journey through the 10 most legendary mobile games that have defined a generation.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds is practically a household name and yet if I explained the game on paper (catapulting birds like weapons + destroying forts = fun), it may not sound ingenious nor very exciting. But many of you know that the game experience is very different; it is super easy to get addicted. Here are a few reasons:

  • It is simple and because it is simple, players feel accomplished and empowered early on- Core Drive 2 (Development & Accomplishment).
  • The game develops in a way that allows the players to feel a clear sense of progress which further ingrains their sense of achievement.
  • Players can compete with their friends. There is a strong drive to beat the other person and score higher (even if they are your girlfriend or boyfriend)- Core Drive 5 (Social Influence & Relatedness).

Temple Run

Temple Run is an adventure game. Players interact as an explorer character who steals an ancient mask and must escape the wrath of demon monkeys. The touchscreen controls allow the explorer to run as fast as possible, trying to avoid dangerous traps and obstacles such as trees and roots- Core Drive 8 (Loss & Avoidance). Players can move left or right. They can also duck, turn, or jump.

There is now a Temple Run 2 which is based on the movie, Brave. The objective is to use archery to hit a target and collect coins. By the fourth day of its release, it had already been downloaded 20 million times!

Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride
, developed by Halfbrick Studios, is an action-packed side-scrolling endless runner game that has captivated millions with its engaging gameplay mechanics. Players take control of Barry, a protagonist who breaks into a laboratory to commandeer experimental jetpacks. The simple touch mechanism — press to ascend and release to descend — complements the game’s fast-paced nature, as players dodge obstacles, evade missiles, and collect coins. Power-ups and vehicle upgrades add further depth, ensuring every run feels unique.

From a gamification design perspective, Jetpack Joyride incorporates several elements that hook players and promote continuous engagement. The game employs a series of missions and achievements, motivating players to pursue specific objectives each time they play. This taps into the Octalysis Framework’s Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment, giving players a sense of progression and achievement. Furthermore, the collection of coins and the in-game store where players can purchase aesthetic upgrades and power-ups play into Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession. The result is a game that, beyond its core mechanics, skillfully utilizes gamification principles to keep players returning for one more ride.

Genshin Impact

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Interview with Jeff Booth (Economy Expert and Author)

Here, Yu-kai interviews Jeff Booth, an economy expert. He is the co-founder of BuildDirect and the author of Why Deflation is the Key to an Abundant Future.

Jeff Booth is a visionary leader who has lived at the forefront of technology change for 20 years. He led BuildDirect, a technology company that aimed to simplify the building industry, for nearly two decades through the dot-com meltdown, the 2008 financial crisis, and many waves of technological disruption. Jeff has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Inc.com, The Globe and Mail, BNN, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, TIME, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2015, he was named BC Technology Industry Association’s (BCTIA) Person of the Year, and in 2016 Goldman Sachs named him among its 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.


Watch the five-part Octalysis Prime series of Yu-kai interviewing Jeff over Zoom about the current COVID economy and his predictions of the post-COVID economy.

If you are interested to go deeper on this topic you have couple of options:

  1. You can find it on Amazon.com:
  2. Join Octalysis Prime community to dialogue more with Yu-kai and a community of learners of gamification: