Posted in gaming, marketing

GDC09 Notes: Designing Engaging Relationships

GDC09 presentation by Scott Rigby at Immersyve
Powerpoint deck and white paper available at:

– Fun can have negative aspects – not always positive
– work involved, stress, etc – all can be fun

– Collecting Behaviorial Data (telemetry)
– Outcome based rather than Causal

– The underpants Gnome Dilemma (South Park reference)
– 3 part business plan
– Collect Underpants
– Something
– Collect Profit
– We know that if we make the game fun then people will love it, but what is the middle part – how do we ensure fun

– Motivational Research is happening at the academic level

– Player Experience of Need Satisfaction (PENS) Model
– Competence – to grow in skill
– Autonomy – experience personal agency/choice
– Relatedness – meaningful connection to other players – real or NPC

– Just tracking fun is not an indicator of retention – using PENS is better
– long term and short term (they had data from their study to back claim)

– efficiency, growth, mastery
– High intention to outcome ratio
– Mastery in Moment-to-monent gameplay
– getting good feedback in wins and loses
– granular, sustained, cumulative
– w/i session, w/i game, global
– guitar hero is a good example of this
– Rewards
– not just happy things, but also info to get better works well as a reward
– Challenge
– stretch, don’t overwhelm
– watch for boring and anxiety extremes
– sustained challenge is high on fun, but low on PENS
– player gets exhausted if challenge is sustained too long
– being able to express mastery is key
– Shaming is not helpful

– sense of personal agency or volition
– I am the cause of my actions, not the game design
– Opportunities for Action (OFA)
– Interactive opportunities x Possible Actions = OFA
– Not about creating more, but about perceived opportunity
– density of choice
– Make sure schemas are met
– If in other situations things work a certain way, make sure that it consistent
– in one game when you shoot at a box on the wall it explodes, but in another level the box is just a texture on the wall and does nothing when shot
– player is reminded of his place in the game at that point and enjoyment decreases

– connected/mattering to other people, either real or NPC
– Give positive contextual feedback – especially in the case of NPC, don’t make them just filler
– Random dialogue and serious attitude in NPCs is demotivating to players

– Ask questions during game design phase
– How will overall or specific game play satisfy needs?
– Can I satisfy multiple needs simultaneously?
– Heat Maps in Game
– Push Short Surveys in game in different areas to gauge what needs are being met or not in what areas of the world

These concepts were found to be fundamental – across geography, age and game genre


I am a data & results driven Digital Media Influencer with over 15 years of experience in engagement, family marketing, scaling infrastructure and audience culture across a product’s lifetime from pre-launch to millions of users. Strategic Vision & Business Development: • Articulated corporate integrated digital marketing strategies for 10 children’s entertainment properties across multiple digital channels • Authored a comprehensive business plan for scalable online community infrastructure for internal and external partners and successfully participated in a thorough VC due diligence process • Increased sales revenue by 20% while managing 6 million dollars of annual revenue in existing business services. Production & Project Management: • Developed multiple 2D & 3D multi-player virtual worlds, online games & apps based on repurposed/original assets • Produced 12 animated 2-minute shorts for broadcast on television & developed animation production department workflows • Launched multiple major website redesigns to include more fan interaction • Led workflow & process optimization teams to improve operational effectiveness/productivity. Audience Engagement & Research: • Developed domestic and international audience research programs both on & offline for both parent and children audiences • Grew multiple audiences from pre-launch to tens of millions by using organic, as well as established marketing tactics. Team Management & Relationship Building: • Designed team management & organizational structures for multiple Web Content and Web Marketing departments including international remote teams of staff in North & South America, Europe and Asia. • Managed teams in multiple disciplines, including customer service, social media engagement, production, moderation, marketing, design, tech and content development. • Extensive client, vendor and partner management experience in television, licensing, digital, e-commerce & customer service industries

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