The Earned Lunch: Fixed Action Rewards: Technique for Long-term Motivation


Welcome to an in-depth exploration of the “earned lunch” technique, a widely used game design method known as the fixed action reward. This powerful strategy motivates users by setting clear goals and offering tangible rewards.

However, like any game design technique, it has its pros and cons. As the author of “Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards,” I always advocate for well-rounded design, incorporating the Octalysis Framework to ensure a balanced and engaging user experience.

In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll dive into the psychology, benefits, limitations, and best practices of the earned lunch technique, ultimately guiding you in designing an effective and motivating user experience.

The Earned Lunch Technique (Game Technique #7)

The earned lunch technique is built on the concept of offering a clear and enticing reward for completing a specific action. This is in contrast to other type of reward structures, such as the Mystery Box (Random Rewards) and Easter Eggs (Sudden Rewards)

The Earned Lunch is prevalent in various reward contexts, such as loyalty programs, sales incentives, and employee motivation schemes. The key to this technique’s success lies in its simplicity and transparency; users know what they need to do and what they’ll get in return.

The Psychological Mechanisms Behind the Earned Lunch Technique

The earned lunch technique relies on several Core Drives in the Octalysis Framework, such as Ownership & Possession (Core Drive 4), Scarcity and Impatience (Core Drive 6), and Development & Accomplishment (Core Drive 2).

However, these Core Drives are primarily extrinsic motivators, meaning they don’t tap into the user’s inherent desire for exploration, creativity, or social interaction. To create a more engaging and sustainable experience, consider incorporating additional intrinsic motivators alongside the fixed action reward.

The fixed action reward, when designed correctly, can also create a sense of anticipation and desire for the reward, thus building a stronger emotional connection to the activity. Users often experience an increased motivation to complete the task, knowing that they will receive a reward upon completion. This creates a positive feedback loop, where the more users engage with the task, the more they desire the reward, and the more they are motivated to continue.

Pros of the Earned Lunch Technique

  1. Ease of design: The earned lunch technique is straightforward to implement, as it involves offering a specific reward for completing a particular action. This simplicity makes it an attractive option for designers who want to quickly motivate users without investing significant time and resources in developing a more complex system.
  2. Clear user expectations: The fixed action reward clearly communicates to users what they need to do to earn the reward, making it easy for them to understand and engage with the system. This clarity can lead to increased user satisfaction and motivation, as they know exactly what to expect and how to achieve it.
  3. Crucial justification: The earned lunch technique can provide users with a sense of justification for engaging in an activity, helping them overcome initial barriers and guilt associated with spending time on a seemingly unproductive task. The promise of a reward can encourage users to try out new activities or continue engaging with tasks they might otherwise abandon.

Cons of the Earned Lunch Technique

  1. Loss of intrinsic motivation: Users may lose their inherent drive to engage in an activity once the extrinsic rewards are no longer available. This can lead to decreased user satisfaction and engagement, as users no longer feel motivated to participate in the task without the promise of a reward.
  2. Expanding expectations: People tend to have growing appetites, and the same reward may lose its appeal over time. This necessitates a continuous increase in the reward value to maintain motivation, which can be challenging to sustain in the long term.
  3. Entitlement and lack of excitement: When users expect a specific reward for their actions, they may feel entitled to it rather than excited or delighted when they receive it. This can lead to reduced user satisfaction and engagement, as the reward loses its emotional impact over time.

Designing Effective Fixed Action Rewards: Best Practices

To maximize the impact of the earned lunch technique, consider the following best practices:

  1. Choose emotionally appealing rewards: Select rewards that create a strong emotional connection with users. For example, often people feel emotionally attracted more to a Free iPad, compared to $600, even though they could be worth the same.
  2. Ensure visibility and awareness: Make sure users are continuously reminded of the reward and its requirements. This can be achieved through in-app notifications, progress trackers, or visual cues that keep the reward top-of-mind, encouraging users to stay engaged and complete the required actions.
  3. Combine with intrinsic motivators: Incorporate elements of intrinsic motivation, such as social interaction (Core Drive 5), creativity (Core Drive 3), and exploration (Core Drive 7), to create a more engaging and sustainable user experience. This can involve adding social features like leaderboards, collaboration opportunities, or creative challenges that complement the fixed action reward.
  4. Balance labor-driven and performance-driven rewards: Consider whether the earned lunch rewards should be based on the amount of effort or the level of performance. Labor-driven rewards encourage users to put in time and effort, while performance-driven rewards motivate them to excel and achieve higher standards. Both approaches have their merits, and a mix of the two can create a more engaging and motivating experience.


The earned lunch technique, or fixed action reward, is a powerful and widely used game design method that motivates users through clear goals and tangible rewards. However, to create a sustainable and engaging user experience, designers must be mindful of its limitations and incorporate additional intrinsic motivators alongside the fixed action reward.

When designing an effective earned lunch technique, focus on emotionally appealing rewards, visibility and awareness, intrinsic motivators, and a balance between labor-driven and performance-driven rewards. By doing so, you can create an engaging and motivating experience that keeps users coming back for more.

Now, it’s your turn to share your experiences. What kind of fixed action rewards have been most appealing to you? Have they sustained your motivation or were they short-lived? How have you used fixed action rewards in your projects, and have they been effective? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s continue the conversation on mastering the art of fixed action rewards.

Applying Evil Egg Design to create urgent action

Today, I’d like to discuss an engaging game design technique called the Evil Egg Design (Game Technique #115), which can be quite effective when implemented thoughtfully.

The concept of an Evil Egg is simple: it’s a component that, if left unattended, will become progressively worse and worse.

Eventually, it reaches a critical point, hatching into something undesirable or even disastrous. This design comes in two main variations, both of which create a sense of urgency in players and encourage them to act quickly to avoid negative consequences.

  1. The Time-Based Evil Egg: In this variation, the Evil Egg starts as a harmless element that doesn’t seem to pose any threat. However, once a specific time-based threshold is crossed, the Evil Egg event triggers, resulting in a heavy penalty or an increase in difficulty for the player.
  2. The Escalating Evil Egg: In this version, the Evil Egg begins as an already challenging or punitive element, and it becomes increasingly difficult or penalizing over time (e.g., every second, minute, or day).

Examples of Evil Egg designs can be found in everyday life, such as late fees on bills or penalties for picking up children late from childcare centers. These real-world instances demonstrate how the Evil Egg concept can be applied beyond gaming to motivate individuals to take action before consequences escalate.

In the mobile game Candy Crush, Evil Eggs manifest as chocolates that expand and overtake the board if not dealt with promptly, or as bombs that cause a game over if not destroyed within a set number of moves. These elements create a sense of urgency for players, compelling them to strategize and prioritize their actions to avoid negative outcomes.

When implementing Evil Egg designs in a gamified environment, consider the following tips to maximize their effectiveness:

  1. Create a strong context: Ensure that the Evil Egg design is relevant to your project and supports its overall theme or objectives. This may require incorporating elements such as Epic Meaning (Core Drive 1), Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback (Core Drive 3), Unpredictability & Curiosity (Core Drive 7).
  2. Visually represent the Evil Egg: To drive engagement, it’s often helpful to have the Evil Egg represented by an icon or other visual elements. This could be a line item on a to-do list, a deadline with a penalty, or a playful representation of the concept.
  3. Foster a playful mentality: Encourage users to approach the Evil Egg with a sense of fun and adventure. This can help them tackle the threat more readily and feel less overwhelmed by potential consequences.
  4. Make sure the Evil Egg is always visible and prominent in the user’s experience. This constant reminder will help apply emotional pressure and motivate the user to address it before it grows into something much worse.
  5. Consider the emotional impact: While the Evil Egg should create a sense of urgency, be careful not to push users too far into negative emotional territory. An unexpected penalty might leave them frustrated or angry, so ensure that the Evil Egg’s presence and potential consequences are clearly communicated from the outset.
  6. Incorporate other gamification techniques: While the Evil Egg design can be a powerful motivator, it’s essential to remember that it’s just one tool in a game designer’s toolkit. Combine the Evil Egg with other gamification techniques, such as rewards, leveling systems, or social elements, to create a well-rounded and engaging user experience
  7. Encourage collaboration and social interaction: While the Evil Egg design creates a sense of individual urgency, you can also incorporate elements that encourage collaboration and social interaction. Users may find it more enjoyable and effective to work together to address Evil Eggs, fostering teamwork and shared success.
  8. Customize the experience: Different users may have varying levels of tolerance for challenge and urgency. To cater to a diverse audience, consider allowing users to adjust the difficulty or frequency of Evil Eggs in their experience. This customization can help users find the right balance of challenge and engagement for their preferences.

In conclusion, the Evil Egg design is a powerful game design technique that can drive motivation and urgency in users. By understanding its core principles and implementing it thoughtfully, you can create compelling experiences that encourage users to take action before negative consequences arise.

Whether it’s applied in gaming, productivity apps, or other real-life scenarios, the Evil Egg design can be a valuable tool to engage and motivate users.

The Spinning Wheel: A Comprehensive Guide to Boosting User Engagement

In the world of gamification, there’s an array of techniques and tools that can be employed to encourage user engagement and create memorable experiences. Today, we’ll be focusing on a variation of the Mystery Box game design called the spinning wheel. This captivating game technique has a lot to offer, but it’s essential to understand its unique features and limitations to maximize its effectiveness.

A Closer Look at the Spinning Wheel (Game Technique #91)

The spinning wheel is a circular wheel with a variety of rewards displayed around the edges. Users spin the wheel, and a needle at the top indicates the reward they will receive when the spinning stops. While the spinning wheel shares similarities with a traditional Mystery Box design, there are a few key differences that set it apart:

  1. Scarcity and Desire: The spinning wheel showcases all potential rewards, allowing users to see what they might win. This creates a sense of scarcity and desire, as users can identify the rewards they want the most and hope to win them.
  2. Joy of Anticipation: The spinning wheel builds excitement as it gradually slows down, almost landing on a desired reward before moving to another. This element of suspense adds an extra layer of engagement and motivation, making users eager to try their luck again.
  3. Transparent probability: Unlike Mystery Boxes, the spinning wheel visibly shows users the likelihood of receiving each reward. This transparency can be an advantage or a limitation, depending on your goals and target audience.
  4. Attention-grabbing: A spinning wheel is an eye-catching game element that naturally draws people in. Its mere presence can generate interest and curiosity, making users eager to participate.

However, the spinning wheel also has its limitations:

  1. Fewer potential rewards: Unlike a treasure box design, a spinning wheel has limited space to display rewards, restricting the number of potential prizes you can offer.
  2. Gambling associations: The spinning wheel can evoke feelings of gambling, which may not be suitable for all audiences or environments, such as targeting younger users or corporate settings that prefer a more conservative approach.
  3. It takes much longer to reveal the reward from the Spinning Wheel compared to the normal Mystery Box because it takes time to spin, slow down, and land on a reward. If there is a lot of Spinning Wheels to run through before an important activity, this could eat up a lot of time.

Implementing the Spinning Wheel in Your Project

As you consider incorporating a spinning wheel into your project, think about the pros and cons I’ve shared and weigh them against your goals and target audience. Here are some guidelines for implementing the spinning wheel in your project:

  1. Identify appropriate opportunities for Mystery Box designs: Consider where Mystery Box designs could be suitable within your project and evaluate whether the spinning wheel could be a more engaging alternative. For instance, if you already have a reward system in place, explore the possibility of incorporating the spinning wheel as a fresh and exciting way to distribute rewards.
  2. Customize the spinning wheel for your audience: Adapt the spinning wheel to suit your target audience’s preferences, ensuring that it aligns with their values and expectations. This may involve selecting appropriate rewards, adjusting the design to match your brand identity, or incorporating elements that resonate with your audience’s interests.
  3. Maintain authenticity and transparency: While it’s tempting to tweak the spinning wheel’s probabilities, remain transparent and authentic to create a positive user experience. Users appreciate honesty and fairness, so avoid manipulating the odds in a way that feels deceptive or unfair. Instead, focus on providing a fun and engaging experience that keeps users coming back for more.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the spinning wheel: Monitor user engagement with the spinning wheel and gather feedback to refine and optimize its implementation. Keep track of key metrics, such as user retention, frequency of spins, and overall satisfaction, to determine the spinning wheel’s impact on your project.
  5. Balance the spinning wheel with other game techniques: While the spinning wheel can be a powerful tool for driving engagement, it’s essential to strike a balance with other game techniques to create a well-rounded user experience. Overreliance on any single game mechanic can lead to fatigue or diminished returns. By incorporating a diverse range of game techniques, you can ensure that your project remains engaging and appealing to a broad audience.
  1. Consider the legal and ethical implications: Depending on your project’s nature and target audience, there may be legal and ethical considerations to take into account when implementing a spinning wheel. For instance, if your project targets children, it’s crucial to ensure that the spinning wheel doesn’t promote gambling or any other behavior that might be deemed inappropriate. Similarly, if your project is designed for a corporate environment, take care to avoid elements that might be considered too “frivolous” or “unprofessional.”
  2. Leverage the power of scarcity: One of the spinning wheel’s most potent psychological drivers is the feeling of scarcity it creates. To capitalize on this, consider offering limited-time rewards or exclusive prizes that can only be won through the spinning wheel. By creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity, you can encourage users to engage with the spinning wheel more frequently and build anticipation for future spins.

In conclusion, the spinning wheel can be a powerful and engaging game design technique when implemented thoughtfully and strategically. By understanding its unique characteristics and limitations, you can tailor the spinning wheel to suit your project’s needs and create a captivating user experience that keeps your audience coming back for more.

Analysis: Gamification Design behind Squid Game

Squid Game – the gamified death experience that is impossible to ignore

I’m a busy professional. I’m running multiple companies, handling multiple client projects, creating video content, working on an NFT/Metaverse concept, all while helping to raise my twin daughters, Symphony and Harmony Chou.

Because of that, I often try to stay away from addictive media that is designed to suck away all my hours and make me less productive – especially when I’m an expert on how media does that to our brain to begin with.

However, as is probably the case for your experience too, I suddenly got approached by a variety of people asking me if I have seen this Netflix show called Squid Game, and how would I use Octalysis Gamification Theory to dissect it.

This happened so frequently within a few days, that I finally took the Red Pill and decided to watch Squid Game. And expectedly, I finished the entire Season 1 within 24 hours. Wait, did I mention I was a busy professional?

Lucky for me, my profession is learning from addictive entertainment and applying them to productive processes such as improving healthcare, education, finance, etc. by making boring but important activities more fun and engaging.

So the joke’s on Squid Game – I didn’t entirely waste my time and it helped me level up.

Here I share my analysis of this gamified death experience and why it rose above the crowd and totally killing it.

Spoilers Alert: not only will parts of the show be spoiled, you will understand the inner workings of how something like Squid Game is designed, ruining your entire experience if watching for the first time.

But what makes it a GAME?

It’s called the Squid Game, but is it really a game? Most of the time we think of games as fun activities that drive good memories. Squid Game seems to just be this perverted meat trap where people are dying for the entertainment of sick rich people.

You see similar scenarios in horror Escape Room movies where many people die if they don’t solve puzzles to escape the room quickly. But they don’t call it a game – just another tortune zone.

However, if you look at similar films here, you will see that something like the Hunger Games also call themselves a game, except the goal is to just kill off one another. In Roman gladiator arenas, there is also the common saying, “Let the games begin!”

So what makes people slaughtering each other a form of game?

Technically, games exist for us to rehearse and train for real life situations that are important. That’s why boys love playing fighting games – in primitive times you don’t want your first ever fight to be of life-or-death. Their brain creates pleasure when tackling these situations so they would have enough practice to survive in the future world.

That’s also why there are also many popular games that are related to socializing, solving puzzles/problems, and building industrial empires – all extremely useful skills to gain for thriving in our harsh world.

So when people are put in an artificially created environment where they need to outcompete each other and even potentially cause each other to be eliminated, they call this a Game. The fact that many sports are just a game that professionals play to entertain a paying audience also fits very well in the setup of Squid Game.

But of course, it goes beyond that. Squid Game actually offers little games that Koreans play as kids when they were growing up, further pushing for that aspect of “I want desperate people to survive and murder each other, but through a gamified environment.”

So what makes the gamified Squid Game so compelling?

There are 2 aspects to consider here: the Squid Game itself for the contestants, and the Squid Game show for the audience.

For both of them, we could use the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard to evaluate the different sets of Business Metrics, Player Types, Desired Actions, Feedback Mechanics, and Rewards/Incentives. For practicality sake, we use a super shrunk down version of this process.

If we look at the Squid Game for the Contestants:

Business Metrics: how thrilling and entertaining the VIPs will feel while watching people struggling and getting eliminated
Player: financially and socially desperate people who have dropped to the bottom of society that have very little to live for or too much to lose if they didn’t have money.
Desired Actions: go through a list of 6 games, surviving each of them, while making sure other contestants are being eliminated
Feedback Mechanics: floating ball with a ton of cash, number of current players, gameful environment with death triggers, soldiers with guns etc.
Rewards/Incentives: a huge deal of money that could likely solve all the problems they are facing in their normal reality.

Now if we look at Squid Game for the Netflix Viewers:

Business Metrics: keep people watching content for a long extended period of time so every month they feel like the fee was worth it – also increase word of mouth.
Player: media-oriented people who prefer watching shows as their main form of entertainment. Also people who like thrillers and aren’t afraid of blood, like the Game of Thrones audience.
Desired Actions: binge watch Squid Game for long periods of time. If they stop watching it, think about it all night long and talk to others about it.
Feedback Mechanics: TV screen – which characters are still alive, what is the new challenge, attachment to characters, drama/tension built between characters, curiosity of the entire organization.
Rewards/Incentives: satisfying ones’ curiosity, feedback of one’s creative guessing, social relatedness towards characters in the show and how they develop

For this article, we will focus on the Game Contestants (and potentially explore Netflix Viewer in another article)

Squid Game Contestant Game Analysis

Squid Game Gamified Analysis

So if we apply the 8 Core Drives of the Octalysis Framework, we could make these analysis to the game from the position of the contestants. Let’s first get the obvious ones out of the way:

Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession in Squid Game

Of course, the biggest appeal for people to play the Squid Game is the money prize if they are the final winners. There is nothing special about this, but companies who want to motivate people need to think very heavily about incentive designs and how that incentive is presented.

Keep in mind that Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession is on the left side of the octagon so it is a “Left Brain Core Drive,” which means it is purely an extrinsic motivation design. This means that the players are doing the activities because of a goal, milestone, or reward, but they don’t necessarily enjoy the activity itself. So once they obtain the reward, hit their goals, or the reward becomes stale and uninteresting, people will stop doing the behavior.

For Squid Game, it is not hard to imagine that if the reward suddenly disappears or is not as attractive as they thought, no one would want to continue.

Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance in Squid Game

Continue reading Analysis: Gamification Design behind Squid Game

Human-Focused Design: The Better Term for Gamification

This is an excerpt from the second part of the introduction of Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and LeaderboardsBuy a copy here or listen on Audible.

Why Gamification?

Gamification, or the act of making something game-like, is certainly not something new. Throughout history, humans have tried to make existing tasks more intriguing, motivating, and even “fun.” When a small group of people casually decide to compete against each other in hunting and gathering, or simply start keeping score of their activities and comparing it to their past records, they are adopting principles that are prevalent in modern games to make tasks more engaging.

One of the earlier works done on adapting gameplay practices within the workplace can be traced back to 1984, when Charles Coonradt explored the value of adding game-play elements at work through his book The Game of Work. 1

Coonradt addressed the question, “Why would people pay for the privilege of working harder at their chosen sport or recreational pursuit than they would work at a job where they were being paid?” He then boiled it down to five conclusions that led to hobbies being more preferable to work.


• Clearly defined goals
• Better scorekeeping and scorecards
• More frequent feedback
• A higher degree of personal choice of methods • Consistent coaching

As we dive deeper into our journey together, we will learn about how these factors boil down to specific motivation Core Drives that can be intently designed for.

On the other hand, some early forms of marketing gamification can also be seen in the form of (regrettably) “shoot the duck” banner ads on websites, where an image ad tempts users to click on it by displaying a duck flying around. These tactics have probably tricked many people, myself included, into clicking on them once or twice upon seeing them. Later on, eCommerce sites like eBay and all adapted sound gamification principles to become hugely popular examples of how game mechanics and dynamics can really make a process fun and engaging (in later chapters, we will examine how both eBay and utilize great gamifica- tion design to make purchases exciting and urgent).

Of course, as “games” evolved throughout the centuries, the art of “making things game-like” naturally evolved too. Through the ad- vent of the Internet, Big Data, pluggable frameworks, and stronger graphics, our ability to design and implement better gamification experiences has drastically improved to the point where we can now bring sophisticated and subtle game-like experiences into every aspect of our lives.

In recent years, the term “gamification” became a buzzword because the gaming industry shifted from making simple games that only target young boys, to social and mobile games like Farmville and Angry Birds that also appeal to middle-aged executives as well as senior retirees alike.

Continue reading Human-Focused Design: The Better Term for Gamification

Monday’s Mini – Can We Feel Related to NPCs? 2/2

In our exclusive Slack community for Premium Primers, we offer the weekly Monday’s Mini Challenge.
The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. We created the Monday’s Mini Challenges to offer our Primers the chance to do this.

Monday’s Mini. One topic. Three questions. Many high-quality answers from our Primers.

Oftentimes when we think about Core Drive 5, we think about Social Influence, Relatedness, Social Pressure, Envy. We think about what we do based on what other people do, think, or say, about collaboration and competition. With humans.

But what about NPCs? What about animals? What about people that only exist in books, stories, movies?
This week we will explore a larger extent of Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

Question 3 – One of the low hanging fruits to improve a design, is to make it easy for users to show appreciation for each other. However, we can only motivate people, gently nudge them in the right direction, we cannot control them. Do you think we can use things we can control (e.g. NPCs, the companion on the Island, a chatbot…) to achieve (partly) the same effect. Motivate your answer.

Thorsten Niemeyer shares his own experience with Witcher 3 and how NPCs motivated him through CD5.

“Appreciation from an NPC, you companion can definitely motivate you, and I think the more it is individualised the better.
So like in video games where you grow to like persons, prefer them over others, do things for them rather than others (Witcher 3 with all the different Relationships comes to my mind, where I for sure had some kind of social feelings for the characters, especially regarding how my interactions affected the relationship)
Another thing that I thought of was a bot that shows you around a game, platform etc. that shows you how to do things, drive actions, how to communicate with others. And there with the right kind of dialogue it could definitely invoke some CD5.
“Hey adventure let me show you around. Here you can chat with me, ah nice. If you post something others can like it. Here see you already got a like from me.”, even though knowing the first like is from a bot would at least I have the feeling do its part to motivate the user.”

Lucian Katzbach goes into detail about what would be necessary in order to have a NPC offer motivation through Core Drive 5.

“Yes, I think it’s possible. But hard to achieve since it must be vivid. The npc needs to have weaknesses or moods etc. But they need additionally enough CD7 but still needs to be in context. All this makes it hard. One example might be the app Replika.”

Colin Hahn is brainstorming for automated coaching tools.

“I’ll say yes. The scenario I’m thinking about is automated coaching tools. I’ve personally found that messages from those bots can tap into that social experience. From a motivation perspective, I’ve felt like that technique works better when:
– The bot has a “personality” – that creates some CD3 and CD7 which makes me interested in what the bot will say, instead of just expecting a rote explanation
– The bot customizes the messages for me – there’s probably a combination of CD4 Alfred Effect, CD3, and CD 7 involved when the bot asks, e.g., why I care about the goal and then uses that language in future reminders
– The bot connects me with other users; I’ve seen some bots use CD5 social anchoring to say “85% of your peers did ABC, you should too!””

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!

Monday’s Mini – Can We Feel Related to NPCs? 1/2

In our exclusive Slack community for Premium Primers, we offer the weekly Monday’s Mini Challenge.
The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. We created the Monday’s Mini Challenges to offer our Primers the chance to do this.

Monday's Mini. One topic. Three questions. Many high-quality answers from our Primers. Click To Tweet

Oftentimes when we think about Core Drive 5, we think about Social Influence, Relatedness, Social Pressure, Envy. We think about what we do based on what other people do, think, or say, about collaboration and competition. With humans.

But what about NPCs? What about animals? What about people that only exist in books, stories, movies?
This week we will explore a larger extent of Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

Question 2 – “Do you think NPCs can motivate us through Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness? Explain why you think this can or cannot be while coming to the core of what you feel CD5 represents.”

Manas Mallik (Product Manager) goes to the core of CD5: Social Influence & Relatedness.

“I think NPCs can motivate us through CD5. That it’s a bot doesn’t matter as long as it is designed well. Deep underneath humans want to be appreciated, feel wanted, feel encouraged and a NPC can do that. Rationally thinking we might say that we are not motivated but actually we are. It is true for any advertisements also NPC need to designed intelligently for the right context and Then it can motivate through CD5”

Ren Chang Soo (Experience Designer) uses Animal Crossing to analyze the use of NPCs there, focussing on the possibility of AI in NPCs in games.

“In animal crossing, the NPC Tom Nook can be perceived to play the role of a mentor. You can go to Tom and ask “What should I do?” and Tom would share next steps. Getting answers to the question of “What should I do” sounds like the NPC is motivating us through CD5 (mentorship)
Having said that, upon further investigation, you will realise that Tom Nook is just sharing your next logical “desired actions” in a conversation format. And thus might act more like a guide (instead of mentor), when the player is looking for a new “desired action” to move forward with.
Thus having an option to ask the NPC an open ended question/ advice such as “What should I do?” is a good starting point in embedding CD5. It is also imperative that the NPC’s response to this question needs to be crafted (by the game designer) in a way that the player feels like receiving guidance/ advice from the NPC in further strengthening the presence of CD5
What would be awesome is to have NPC powered by artificial intelligence.

Predrag Stefanović goes into more detail explaining about how NPCs can utilize Core Drive 5.

“Yes, I think NPC could motivate us through CD5.
The NPC could inform us how we stand on the leaderboard and what tasks we need to perform in order to progress further. For example, he might say, “Great, you’re doing well for now. If you complete the task to the end, you’ll overtake John B. on the leaderboard. Also, after we solve a task, the NPC can reveal to us in what way and what strategy was used by John B. to kill the dragon and win the mighty sword. Also, NPC can invite me to help my friend John B. in battle. From the above examples, we can see that NPC can be our ally in correspondence with real players in many ways, utilizing core drive 5.”

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!