What makes gardening such an engaging activity in games?
You probably noticed that in most games the “farming” progress becomes addictive for the players.
There has been a lot of studies behind this on a “game design” level.Like probably you already know videogames can be addictive also because they give you levels of satisfaction that you can’t normally reach in every-day life, in some games you can receive a gratification every 8 seconds…pretty impossible to have in “real-life”
Well gardening ( like other stuff ) in videogames goes mostly on affecting this part of the design process when making games.
I will bring you an example about gardening that we discussed on reddit and then i will give some more examples:
“You could spend days discussing this subject, so any brief comment is going to by necessity leave out a lot. That being said, there are two main drivers here, and both are about intrinsic motivations.
It feels inherently good to make things and to create order out of chaos. Games like Harvest Moon do a fantastic job of this. You plant seeds and get a crop. You sell the crop and get money. You spend the money to get seeds. You’ve made a good, sold it, profited, and can start the cycle over again. That’s a compelling loop that feels like you’re doing something. The work in most gardening games is repetitive enough to feel like you’re improving but without being dull. At least, not to the players who like this kind of game.”
This is a very good point, in other games like Minecraft, Rust, Don’t Starve, #everysurvivalgameeverexisted you have boring parts where you farm for resources, this can be not only relaxing but give you time to think about something else, not only the game itself, how many times while playing stardew valley We’ve found ourselves watching some streamers on Twitch or looking at funny cat videos on Youtube?But after those 2 hours of farming we can build an amazing base, or go into space, reach a game goal!This way we have 2 cool things to do, the farming part can be boring sometimes but it’s part of the grind and of the addiction of the game, the second thing is the macro goal ( for example in Factorio it would be to reach space ).
“That also ties into the second aspect. There are a lot of different theories about player motivation, but a good basic one to start with says that players like three things: getting better at things (mastery), getting options (autonomy), and personalizing their experience (self-expression). These games do all of these in spades. Your garden gets bigger, you get more plants, you design it the way you want. You feel a sense of ownership over your farm. It’s not just anyone’s farm, it’s yours. You start getting new tools, new recipes, new buildings, and all of it is something that belongs to you. It is a very powerful, very naturally beneficial experience.”
We believe we could write a book about the satisfaction that a user can get from games in general, maybe some of you played the FPS game “Counter Strike”, well you probably hated the fact that sometimes you have to warm up against bots, shoot shoot shoot and lose to get better, but once that “muscle memory training” kicks in and you start to insta-shoot people down without even thinking of it you can feel the chills of your achievement and suddenly those hours spent to shoot at stupid bots in the head becomes an amazing experience, sometimes you hate the game, you get mad…but…deep down…you know you are loving every part of it!