We’ve touched on player motivation before, but let’s briefly give it our full focus. Boiled down to a simple statement, bridging the gap between player motivation and player character motivation is one of the the most important factors in a game narrative’s success.
(Success, in this case, being shorthand for “ability to elicit the desired audience reaction,” which should be broad enough to cover both “making the player cry” and “increasing the player’s engagement with the game setting and thereby the player’s willingness to spend money on microtransactions.” We’ve got a big tent on this site, with room for everyone.)
In traditional storytelling media, writers are concerned with finding ways to make the audience empathize with the protagonist. And for good reason–even when an audience may not want a given protagonist to succeed at her goals, we should care about her fate and the fate of secondary characters (otherwise, what’s the point?) It’s difficult to care about a character we’re unable to understand or relate to.
In interactive narrative, empathy continues to play a role–but it’s intimately tied to the player’s own motivation. Continue reading