What Motivates You to Play?

Screenshot by Flickr User: leandro zappia
Screenshot by Flickr User: leandro zappia

What many gamers often point out as being a problem is not having enough time to play as much as they want, and it made me wonder, when we have limited time, what motivates us to spend that time playing games when we could be doing something else? We have various reasons why we might buy a game, but once you’ve spent your hard-earned money on it, what causes you to spend hours playing them when time is often even more limited than our money is? For me, my favorite kinds of games involve good stories and characters, and I can spend countless hours playing them because I want to experience the entire story and see what happens to the characters. But, that doesn’t cover all the genres out there. What about games that have no plot, or at the very least, where the plot is not the focus?

Well, in addition to games with good stories, I do enjoy platformers and other such genres, because I like the satisfaction it brings me to get 100%, story or not. And yet, I recently bought two games on the Wii U that largely don’t really fit either category and which I think act as a good illustration in what might motivate someone to play and what might not.

These particular games are Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U and Hyrule Warriors. I find both of these games to be similar because the main focus is on fighting, even if the gameplay differs in both. Story is not really a big factor, and getting 100% is difficult enough that I don’t really make it my goal. Frankly, it’s impossible. I basically think of the latter as a Zelda-based Super Smash Brothers because you get the opportunity to play as a wide variety of Zelda characters while using items famous from the series and fighting well-known enemies. (And it is clear Koei Tecmo did their research, and I was quite pleased with some of the moves they gave the characters. Fi turning into a sword and slashing the crap out of people is too cool.) I believe Super Smash Brothers is the better of the two, and yet, ironically, I have been far more inclined to play Hyrule Warriors as of late.

In fact, I have hardly played SSB at all. After playing the first three games from the N64-Wii, I just haven’t really felt like doing the same old thing again for a fourth time, and I find it very disappointing that there isn’t a story mode like Brawl’s Subspace Emissary. (I was also just sad Ghirahim was not a playable character, further spurring me to pick up Hyrule Warriors so that SSB would feel thoroughly guilty for its crimes against me in particular.) Both games have plenty to do, while SSB seems to have a greater variety of challenges and, obviously, a far greater number of characters, as well. In short, it really is more fun, and yet, collecting trophies and the like is just not enough to get me to play at the moment. So why have I been playing so much of Hyrule Warriors if it’s not as good?

Well, I like leveling up. That’s all there really is to it. And a lot of people must, or else RPG’s certainly wouldn’t have become nearly as popular as they have. You see, Hyrule Warriors is pretty repetitive. It involves fighting copious amounts of enemies (it is quite easy to accumulate 1,000 kills and upwards in a short period of time, and that’s if you’re not really even trying), and while they do have some variety in the challenges, such as kill 500 enemies in 10 minutes, defeat enemies whose attacks do massive damage, etc, it’s all the same thing. And yet, what has kept this game from getting boring for me is the fact that I get to level up my characters and create badges for them out of items found on the battlefield that can give them some very useful enhancements. Simply getting to upgrade my characters, thus simplifying challenges that used to feel impossible has been immensely satisfying, and I seriously think that without this feature, I would have grown bored shortly after unlocking all of the characters (or at least, once I grew bored of Ghirahim, who is awesome). Likewise, there are many RPGs like Final Fantasy XIII that bored many people, and yet I enjoy leveling up so much, I spent a good month doing so in order to defeat the final boss. (In all honesty, it was a horribly boring experience, but I was not spending 100 hours in the game only to give up at the end. Take that, Barthandelus, you freak!)

Okay, so I’m not sure if I’m making tons of sense, but I’d like to ask, what motivates you to keep playing a game, especially those that are repetitive and tedious? If Super Smash Brothers didn’t award players with trophies, for example, would you care to play the games for very long? We all have something that motivates us to play video games, or else we wouldn’t do it to begin with, so please tell me your thoughts.

A Motivated Duck

18 Comments Add yours

  1. I find my motivation is related to the people I game with. For instance, Destiny hasn’t changed much since the first expansion, yet I do the same “quests,” dungeons and raids because I enjoy the conversations I have with the friends I run with. Without them, I’d have dropped this game long ago and moved on to something else.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      That reminds me of Hunter: The Reckoning. It wasn’t a very good game, but I loved playing it with friends. Fighting zombies and vampires with buddies never got old, no matter how many times we did it (and we had to start over a lot because we never saved our progress, for some reason).

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  2. Prof.mcstevie says:

    The core mechanics feeling solid will keep me going, I find myself enamoured with the most recent Mario Kart thanks to all the slight tweaks that maintain my highs for longer.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      You make a good point. A game that feels badly made can discourage me from playing, whether it’s merely boring or is unfairly difficult or even simply has a dreadful camera. My favorite games feel like they had a lot of love put into them. I’m currently playing Kingdom Hearts 2, and it’s one game I never grow bored of. That’s a solid game if there ever was one. (The handhelds…not so much.)

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      1. Prof.mcstevie says:

        Man I can’t ever go back to KH1, it isn’t even the growth from 1 to 2 that makes me never want to go back, it just doesn’t feel as comfortable.

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      2. duckofindeed says:

        I still love the first game, but those gummy ship levels… They were silly enough when I first played the game, but now that they’ve been improved in KH2, they look even more sad in comparison. It was such a fantastic game, and then they expect us to fly around between every world on little ships that look like they’re made of Legos.

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  3. Hatm0nster says:

    For me it depends on the game. For may games I enjoy following the story and getting to know the characters. For a game like Halo, I played because I had friends to play with, but also because I enjoyed getting good at it. For a game like Final Fantasy XIII, what kept me playing was a desire to learn and master the battle system. I really liked the whole idea of directing the flow of the battle, so I really wanted to get good at it.

    Oddly enough, things like trophies and achievements are usually the last reason I’d spend time with a game. Don’t really even pay attention to them unless they posed an interesting challenge or I wanted to 100% the game.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      Trophies and achievements used to motivate me, but not so much anymore. If it’s an actually unique challenge, as you mentioned, I’ll do it. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts and Rayman Legends had this, and it was fun. But, games that simply reward me trophies for progressing to certain sections of the plot don’t motivate me to collect trophies at all. Those trophies are lazy on the developer’s part, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pam says:

    I’m motivated to finish games. Games that don’t really ever end (MMOs, roguelikes, fighting games) don’t appeal to me as I enjoy a set end-point and the ability to say “I beat this.” Generally, I like to be told a complete story when I play a game.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      I feel the same way. I like games that are long, but I don’t like games that are too long or never end. I can’t play Minecraft because, as far as I can tell, it goes on forever. It would drive me nuts!

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  5. cary says:

    Duck, this is a really interesting question, and one that, in essence, questions why busy people take on hobbies to begin with. Because we need outlets, is probably the simplest answer. We all need places to go to feel comfortable, whether were alone or with friends, and games provide comfort. But there’s more to it, right? I mean, even as I’m typing this comment, part of my mind is thinking about how close I am to beating the Batman game I’m playing and how exciting it’ll be to start something new. So games provide excitement and allow us to step outside our routines.

    But going back to the idea of comfort, that’s probably what brings players back to tedious or unwinnable games. There’s something nice in knowing that, with some games, you can’t really win or lose but just improve upon your skills. There also the fun of revisiting games that you had a really great time with the first time you played them. I know that I often look for that sense of joy in replaying games. If you have good memories of a game, it’s only natural that you’d want those memories to stick around and grow.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      That’s true, there certainly must be something about hobbies that causes us to want to spend our limited time on them. It must be worth it when these hobbies further decrease what time we have. I know that sometimes I need my games to get through tough times in life. It’s a break from the real world, and as you said, it also brings back good memories we might’ve had with that game in the past, or good memories of things we were doing our first time playing the game.

      On a similar note, while I’ve been playing less of Hyrule Warriors lately, it’s still been fun because I’ve been revisiting it in short bursts here and there. I’ve had much fun just slowly getting gold medals in all the levels where I got silver or bronze and completing levels I could never do before. It’s been really relaxing tackling this game at such a slow pace, and my goal is to always accomplish something I couldn’t do last time, and I usually meet that goal. Meeting real life goals can be difficult, so setting goals with far less pressure, that I can actually reach within a short period of time, is really nice.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. aaronstphnsn says:

    I tend to play games with the thought, “What’s the best this game has to offer?”. That question is answered in so many different ways, depending on genre, which motivates me to play the next one (and why I always have around 5 games on the go…).

    It’s funny you mention Smash though. I live with 3 roommates, who are all avid Smashers. With that game, I play for the social interaction, the competitiveness, and the teamwork (2-v-2’s with team attack on). For me, these specific motivations are largely unique to Smash, which is why I always go back.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      I think SSB would be more fun and addicting if I had other people to play with. Unfortunately. I don’t live near any fans of the series, making story mode that much more important to me. That’s why I was so disappointed the Wii U version didn’t have a story mode like Brawl did. I guess Brawl was good for us solo players, while the others are good for multiplayer, which is the true intent of the series. Sniff, if someone would play with me, I’d really get to enjoy what the series has to offer.

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      1. aaronstphnsn says:

        Yeah, I feel very lucky I live in the house that I do. When the news came out that they weren’t going to make a single-player story for this game, I myself was cool with it, but I knew that it was understandably going to be a bummer for others.

        At least the online isn’t horrible?

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      2. duckofindeed says:

        I wonder why they got rid of story mode. I did hear once that they didn’t want to include cut scenes because people posted them on Youtube, and they claimed it ruined the plot (which doesn’t really make sense, so that must not be true), but why get rid of it entirely?

        I must admit, another problem I have with the game is simply the fact that characters I was hoping for weren’t in it. There was this leaked info claiming Ghirahim from Zelda, K. Rool from Donkey Kong, and Krystal from Star Fox would be in it. While the leak was fake, part of me really hoped at least one of them would show up anyway, and none of them did. I’ve held a grudge against the game ever since. Hyrule Warriors didn’t let me down as much. Because at least one of the three on the list were playable. It’s pretty obvious who.

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