Thursday, January 22, 2009

A little game theory based on "Maslow's hierarchy of needs"

This is a post about little theory of mine concerning the development of browser based games.

Maslow's hierarchy of need says human's needs are divided into 5 levels.
Most important first:
  1. Physiological needs (water, food, ... )
  2. Safety needs (security from crime, health security, ... )
  3. Social needs (friendship, ... )
  4. Esteem (achievement, respect by others, ... )
  5. Self-actualization (morality, creativity, ... )
When  the first need is satisfied, people will move on to the second need, and so on.

So why do people play (browser based) games? Where do games fit into this hierarchy?

I think it's pretty clear.
  • Social needs
  • Esteem
I would consider Self-actualization too, but I think that's less important. Note some people don't even get to this last level of needs.

When people play games, the reasons are:
  • They want to make friends
  • They want a feeling of achievement (e.g. quests)
  • They want respect by others (Dude, see my lvl 100 char!!!)
  • ...
I conclude that if a game wants to be succesfull it should take care of the social needs and esteem of it's players.

An intresting topic on bbgamezone was for me "Game Play vs. Graphics". And "What makes a good game?". In both topics there were people for graphics and there were people for gameplay. But most people agree that the community makes the game, the community makes the players stick around.

I noticed this in games I played already to.

My little theory applied on some games:

Built on it's community, became very popular. The "social needs" are taken into account. Maybe it could invest some more in "esteem".

The "respect by others" is very important here. You can win prizes, collect things, make a beautifull pet, ... just to show off to your fellow players!

This game has good gameplay, but the reason I sticked around was because of the "clan" I was part off.

I bet you could apply this theory to almost every popular browser based game out there will forfill one of these 2 needs. And the bad games, the failures, couldn't forfill them.
Not browser based games usualy took care of the "esteem" (achievement), but now are focusing more and more on the "social needs". Playing together is always better than playing alone :D.
I didn't do a lot of research, so there is a very real chance I'm wrong on this, so feel free to comment.

Though, this is just a little theory of mine. And Maslow's hierarchy of needs isn't exact sience either. (chapter: "criticism" on Wikipedia)

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