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"What is your gaming motivation?" Topic

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Action Log

02 Mar 2015 7:55 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board
  • Crossposted to Wargaming in General board

1,170 hits since 30 Sep 2014
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

ubercommando Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 3:01 a.m. PST

Having been a gamer of all varieties since…well, since Reagan was inaugurated…I've developed this theory that gamers have 5 basic motivations and they chose preferences and styles based around which of the 5 they value the most. There's more on my blog here:

But which of the 5 chimes most with you?

1. FUN: You like games to be not too serious, very sociable and the result isn't too important.

2. COMPETITIVE: You like games to have a competitive edge, winning feels great, losing hurts and there has to be a result to play for.

3. SIMULATION: You value games for their accuracy, either to the historical era they're set in or to the genre they're depicting.

4. GAME MECHANICS: The setting of the game is less important than the mechanism that drives it. You like innovative rules, tactical conundrums and pushing the rules to the limit.

5. PRESENTATION: The look of the game is important, whether it be finely painted miniatures and terrain or perhaps the latest and most popular games which may contain great artwork or photos.

Most gamers I've encountered have one primary motivator and usually one secondary one that is just behind. So which is yours?

Martin Rapier30 Sep 2014 3:05 a.m. PST

6. 'Bringing history to life', as AHGC used to put it. I like games to tell me a compelling story.

From the list above, I guess 3+1.

ubercommando Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 3:13 a.m. PST

The way you've put it, Martin, I'd say that's "simulation" as your prime motivator with "fun" as your secondary.

Chris Palmer30 Sep 2014 3:16 a.m. PST

Mostly a 1 and a 6. But I'd also like to add another possibility:

7. Artistic/ Creative outlet- enjoys painting the figures and building/ creating terrain. Kit bashing and converting figures and vehicles too. Playing with the stuff is almost secondary.

Wildman30 Sep 2014 3:54 a.m. PST

1 and 5. If it isn't fun, I don't want to play it. I also
like well painted miniatures and terrain.

ubercommando Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 4:00 a.m. PST

There is no option 6! What Martin describes is akin to #3, Simulation. And Chris' #7 is the same as my #5, Presentation.

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 4:23 a.m. PST


I went through the simulation and competitive stage and now I just like to escape.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 4:24 a.m. PST

Fun and the chance to paint minis

If it was about winning I would have packed it in a long time ago!

Random Die Roll Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 4:32 a.m. PST

1 with a little bit of 5 thrown in.

Dynaman878930 Sep 2014 4:32 a.m. PST

1 to 3 in equal measure. I used to care more about Game Mechanics but that has gone by the wayside since "For the People" and the lack of hexes and card based activation.

Presentation – I've played some really plain Jane fugly ugly games and had a blast.

Lee Brilleaux Fezian30 Sep 2014 4:33 a.m. PST

I'm sorry, but just because you have a list of five categories, you can't expect wargamers to pick one alone. That's completely unrealistic, and not in a "here's another chart" sort of way.

Have you actually spent much time with wargamers? Strange, cranky individualists who refuse to conform?

One, four and five. Some of three, but not in a fiddly way. Hold two completely. And seven! And six, which is actually three, but without the anal-retentive element. So, take three out for me.

I went to your blog, and was unable to find any pictures of Judy Geeson. You aid there weren't going to be any, but you shouldn't have put the thought out there. It was very wrong of you.

ubercommando Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 4:50 a.m. PST

Shhh! You'll undermine my theory!

The blog post (blatant plug!) explains more about how you can chart your gaming motivation on a bar graph and there are certain "killer-combinations":

Fun-Presentation (gamers who make you wear silly hats, play music and encourage you to get into "character")

Simulation-Games Mechanic (does this game have rules for overwatch? Forming Squares? Moving whilst in square? Interpenetration of units?)

Competitive-Game Mechanics (anyone up for a 7th edition Ancients tournament? No? How about ASL?)

Simulation-Presentation (most show Demonstration Games).

It's not that gamers are non-conformists…they usually have strong ideas about what conformity should be and then try to get everyone else to conform!

SaintGermaine Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 5:00 a.m. PST

Mostly 1 but lately more of 7

ubercommando Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 5:13 a.m. PST

7 is just #5 rebranded.

ordinarybass Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 5:14 a.m. PST

Interesting blog post. I don't agree with all of your examples, but I do think you make some very accurate points about how different combinations of preferences interact.

1 and 5. I started a game club with a couple of friends and part of the description I wrote for our yahoo group reads:

"Our goal for each meeting is for a casual environment (rules lawyers and WAAC gamers need not apply) in which to enjoy battles with painted toy soldiers on great terrain in the company of good people."

It's a vision that completely matches my feelings. It plays out in our gaming in that we play almost all fairly streamlined fast-play systems and we never put anything on the table that isn't painted. The only difference from your description is that we don't care at all about the latest rulesets or games. We play mostly indie rulesets with whatever minis we want.

After reading your article, I think that just the fact that some variation of those statements are are on our blog and group might be part of the reason that most of those who have joined the group are fairly like minded and in 4 years we haven't had any notable conflict of personalities.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 5:25 a.m. PST

7. Especially the kitbashing!

7'. Mathematic/Creative Outlet – Enjoys designing scenarios and using operations analysis to explore the performance space. Playing the games is more a series of playtest trials rather than a leisure activity.

Simulation-Games Mechanic (does this game have rules for overwatch? Forming Squares? Moving whilst in square? Interpenetration of units?)

Those questions are almost the opposite of what I would have asked from the Sim perspective. Not what do these rules let me do, but what can I so with these rules?

1''. Games should be enjoyable, and intentionally not serious. The outcome, however, is important for the fun. Also, why isn't doing maths, competing, and enjoying artistry fun?

That's how I feel right now. Might be different tomorrow.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 5:51 a.m. PST

I'm sorry, but just because you have a list of five categories, you can't expect wargamers to pick one alone. That's completely unrealistic, and not in a "here's another chart" sort of way.

Which is a problem I have with all "essay question" polls.
The person who sets it up has pre-conceived notions of how things are and doesn't even consider anything outside the box.
Adding new choices just upsets the apple art.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 5:53 a.m. PST


which I guess is 8 wink

steamingdave4730 Sep 2014 5:56 a.m. PST

1. If it's not fun I don't care how innovative or "realistic" rules are.

5 is important now, but when I started, playing games on the living room floor with bits of carpets for fields etc, it was less so.

ubercommando Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 6:44 a.m. PST

If you read the blog…(more blatant plugging!)…I explain how you can have one primary motivator and a secondary that isn't far behind. So that would cover two areas, which is what most people here are responding with. I also describe combination motivations: You put two of the five together to more accurately describe a way of going about the hobby.

I repeat my earlier statement; those who are voting for "7, painting and kitbashing" are effectively voting for #5, which is about the visual aesthetic of gaming. In miniature wargaming that translates as figures and models. In board gaming, that equates as game visuals, presentation, board, pieces and such.

The mathematic/creative thing sounds like #4, Game Mechanics with simulation as a secondary. Also, the Sim-example is met with Game mechanics: I want to do this manoeuver, can the rules let me do it?

Originally I thought about 12 different game motivators but after stripping things down and examining each point, I found that most were just variations on the 5, or a combination of 2 with one being slightly more dominant than the other.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 6:51 a.m. PST

One, five and six.

Martin Rapier30 Sep 2014 6:59 a.m. PST

I deliberately put 6 in because 'simulation' is not necessarily the same as 'bringing history to life'.

You can tell a good story with the most abstract and bizarre mechanisms – a card game version of WW1 based on 'Franks Zoo' immediately springs to mind.

I am interested in simulation too, in the broadest sense as well as the deep one as I do not automatically equate it with complexity, but verity. But it really isn't the same as bringing history to life.

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 7:09 a.m. PST

I can identify with 1,3,4 and 5. Not all that concerned with 2.
And, just because you brought it up, I've been miniatures gaming since Nixon was telling us our President was not a crook…

Dan Wideman II Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 7:36 a.m. PST

Since all are elements that will be there no matter what, rather than choose the type I am, I will rank them by priority. AND, I'll stick with the original 5.

My order then is

1 Fun: If it stops being fun that means it's work.
5 Presentation: Looking good is 50% of the reason to play.
3 Simulation: I want things to work the way they should. I don't care if this is abstracted as long as historical tactics work.
4 Game Mechanics: I appreciate ways to make the game easier to play so that I can spend more time enjoying 1,5,and 3.
2 Competition: I don't want this eliminated, but I don't want it to be the emphasis. Some of my favorite games are co-op.

Personal logo The Tin Dictator Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 7:54 a.m. PST

Mine are 3, then 5.
But 5 has nothing to do with the pretty pictures that may be in a rule book. It has to do with the table setup.

Doug MSC Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 8:50 a.m. PST

I like it to be fun, competitive(It doesn't hurt if I loose),and I like it to look good. All these combined into the game. So, 1+2+5=8

ironicon Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 8:54 a.m. PST

1 and 5

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 9:06 a.m. PST

those who are voting for "7, painting and kitbashing" are effectively voting for #5, which is about the visual aesthetic of gaming

Only if you don't care what those people actually mean with their vote.

7. Has nothing to do with the visual aesthetic. It has to do with the act of creating. Someone around here once said something like "1:144 aircraft are therapy for wargames miniature painters". This idea has nothing to do with how good they come out or what aesthetic they express; it has to do with the pyhiscal act of painting being relaxing and making your feel good about yourself. In fact, producing a large number of moderate quality pieces can create equal or greater satisfaction to creating a few high-end pieces. Someone who chose this could very happily paint/kitbash a bunch of stuff, then never play but just put them on a shelf in a sealed box.

The mathematic/creative thing sounds like #4, Game Mechanics with simulation as a secondary. Also, the Sim-example is met with Game mechanics: I want to do this manoeuver, can the rules let me do it?

7' doesn't necessarily mean the setting is less important than the mechanism. For me, the setting drives the mechanisms you should use. There is no requirement for the mechanisms to be innovative to be interesting and rich from an operations research point of view; in fact, one of my biggest laments is that there is so much untapped richness in existing rules and instead we "improve" them by adding stuff instead of exploiting what is there. Not sure how tacitcal conundrums relates to the math. Different things. I do agree the two concepts overlap on pushing the rules to the limit.

Ron W DuBray Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 9:32 a.m. PST

A bit of all of them. really all of one without the others make for a sad game.

David Manley30 Sep 2014 9:37 a.m. PST

Right now my wargaming motivation seems to have left the building :(

skinkmasterreturns30 Sep 2014 9:42 a.m. PST

9. To crush my enemies and drive them before me.
10.To hear the lamentations of their women.

Chris Palmer30 Sep 2014 9:56 a.m. PST

Etotheipi- You just did a great job of explaining my thoughts behind 7, and how it differs from 5. Thanks!

vtsaogames30 Sep 2014 11:20 a.m. PST

All of them.

Personal logo The Tin Dictator Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 11:42 a.m. PST

If you're still confused, there's always PIE !

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 12:17 p.m. PST

@Chris Palmer – No problem. And I think my "seven prime" is more closely related to your seven than to number four.

I saw a lot of the way I think in what you wrote. Perhaps you should seek professional help. :)

Chris Palmer30 Sep 2014 12:53 p.m. PST


Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2014 1:05 p.m. PST

3 + 5. Fun should be an incidental by-product.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian30 Sep 2014 2:39 p.m. PST


corporalpat Inactive Member30 Sep 2014 5:42 p.m. PST

Sorry ubercommando your theory is undermined by those of us who are motivated by all the above more or less equally. Asking me my primary motivation in wargaming is as futile as asking me my favorite color or favorite food…I don't have just one!

Katzbalger30 Sep 2014 5:57 p.m. PST

If you don't count Airfix figures and Matchbox tanks all over the living room carpet (which end up getting stepped on by my parents, of course) I've been playing with miniatures since the Peanut Farmer was in office telling us to wear sweaters and how he got his foreign policy advice from his precocious daughter.

I'd have to say my gaming motivation has changed over the years. At first, it was definitely #1, then #2, then #3. Now, I like to play for the story, sort of, but the rules have to make sense to me (in other words, things have to "work" like I expect them to--usually through some connection to what I consider reality). I really play to see how other people (or me) handle the situations they are put (or get) in. Is that a #10?


ubercommando Inactive Member01 Oct 2014 4:50 a.m. PST

I've just returned from a discussion on a Role Playing forum about this topic and their feedback was interesting…(and only one of them added an option 6).

First of all, we had to define the concept of "fun" a lot more because everyone considers having fun to be of prime importance, but then most were misinterpreting the definition set out in the theory.

Fun, as described in the article and at the top, isn't the dictionary definition about having a good time or enjoying playing games. Everyone considers themselves to be having fun…even if we're sitting at a table playing a serious historical wargame and we hardly speak to our opponent. Fun means more light hearted gaming, beer n' pretzels, result is no issue, avoiding serious subject matter and playfulness if you will. Once we'd got that definition out of the way, fewer people put "fun" as their primary motivator.

Then one role player of long acquaintance actually convinced me to add a genuine #6: Creativity. For him, what motivates him is storytelling, coming up with new ideas, new plots, new situations to imperil the characters with and also creating a finely tuned character for his games. The kitbashing, creating rules, creating scenarios, and so forth would be applicable for creative wargaming.

So, I stand corrected. There still is no #7….yet.

I've also encountered a couple of gamers who rate all aspects equally….they fall into a category I've termed "Universal Gamers". With one person I know this is particularly apt: He'll play anything put in front of him and along with that he'll have all the latest editions of the rules (Presentation), he's quite the rules lawyer (Game Mechanic), he knows his fantasy and sci-fi inside out (Simulation), he'll have finely tuned characters (Creativity), he's an avid supporter of his club's Silly Games Night (Fun) and he pushes hard for a win (Competition).

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Oct 2014 5:24 p.m. PST

Then one role player of long acquaintance actually convinced me

There still is no #7….yet.

So, if you're going to ignore what people say, then why ask the question?

The kitbashing, creating rules, creating scenarios, and so forth would be applicable for creative wargaming.

That's certainly different than the other five, but …

coming up with new ideas, new plots, new situations

NEW doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it. Creativity is different than creating. Painting sopwith camels is certainly not doing anything creative, but it is creating.

Lost Wolf01 Oct 2014 6:40 p.m. PST

1,4, 5.
1 and 4 kind of go together. I enjoy different types of mechanics that make the game fun. This is usually not igo/ugo. I also think the terrain and setup creates a visual appeal that also makes the game fun. It's almost like playing a "movie."

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2014 11:55 p.m. PST

Attributes of a good game.

Fun – Yes, I like a fun game.
Competitive – Yes, I like a competitive game.
Simulation – I like games that simulate history.
Game Mechanics – I like a game with good mechanics.
Presentation – I like games that look good.

What motivates you to be in this hobby?

Socializing – I like being around people who share my interest of the hobby. I have made many life long friends. I look forward to each of our games in part because I get to interact with people who share my love of history.

Fun Factor – I enjoy all aspects of the hobby. I wouldn't be in this hobby if it wasn't fun.

Love of History – This hobby allows me to attempt to simulate historical battles, that I love to read about. I like researching uniforms and scenarios. It affords me the opportunity to learn new things. In it's own small way it brings history to life, at least for me. It lets me go beyond the books.

Creativity – I enjoy collecting and planning armies. The research, aesthetics, painting and terrain building.

Mental Challenge – I have found few hobbies that challenge my intellect as much as historical gaming. Learning the rules and applying them. Devising a strategy and carrying it out.

Team Work – I like coming together with my teammates to plan and execute a plan. Even better when it succeeds. I love it, when a plan comes together.

Competing – I like being competitive. In some ways I am in it to win it while having a good time. If there no competition then why play the game.

My two cents.

grommet37 Inactive Member07 Oct 2014 4:30 p.m. PST

I'd like to thank the fine folks who spoke well on behalf of Number Seven.

While it might not be my personal choice (I'm not good enough at any of it yet to really enjoy it), it is clearly different than #5. Taking enjoyment in the act is not always the same in taking enjoyment from the result. Different temporal referent.


Personal logo Dasher Supporting Member of TMP05 Nov 2014 3:44 p.m. PST

On a scale of 1 to 10 per element listed, with 10 being VERY important and 1 being irrelevant:

1. FUN: 10 – A tedious, boring or otherwise bad experience will negate the highest marks in every other category. If the other elements are of high grade, "FUN" will usually be negated only by a poor GM.

2. COMPETITIVE: 7 – I'm not going to set a guy's car on fire in the parking lot and demand he forfeit when he goes to call the fire department, but I am dead set against "do-overs", especially in tournaments. "You won't make that mistake again" is the best rule for any game.

3. SIMULATION: 9 – Accuracy and/or consistency are part of the "willing suspension of disbelief" that makes the overall investment of time worthwhile, as well as assuring that, no matter how bizarre the conflict, the options available to each player remain "fair". This includes rigorously maintaining house rules, even if a player has used them to their unique advantage. The player's initiative is not to be denied or punished because of the GM's shortsightedness in having created an exploitable rule.

4. GAME MECHANICS: 6 – Generally, not even the most elegant will attract me to a system, but they will keep me coming back to it. What matters most is that a game's mechanics neither dictate nor impede players' tactics. Don't give me an artificial points-based accumulation of units with pre-ordained tactical uses which I MUST abide by; put the men and their weapon systems on the field and get out of my way.

5. PRESENTATION: 8 – Make the effort. Not everybody can afford expensive terrain and hundreds – or even dozens – of figures. But if miniature wargaming is your hobby, then by God, _commit to it_. A table of average-painted figures with all-paper buildings and a few papier-mβchι hills on a green tablecloth looks terrific as long as it is _consistent_.

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