GDC Europe 2012: Funcom's Morrison says focus on the why, not the what

MMOs as a rule tend to have a focus on providing content for us, the players. It makes sense; they want us to play their games, so they give us as much stuff to do as possible so that we'll keep playing. But why do we want to do that stuff in the first place? Craig Morrison, creative director at Funcom Montreal, posed that question at his GDC Europe talk, saying that MMO design needs to shift to consider that option. Gamasutra covered what he has to say: "Everytime a player logs in, they need a 'why'," noted Morrison. "What we really need to be thinking about is the why -- it's the bit that we don't really consider enough. Players need a reason to be playing it. What is motivating them?"

Referencing both Maslow's hierarchy of needs and Simon Simek's work on motivation, Morrison's talk ranged from discussing how games go wrong by focusing on only one kind of player to encouraging the development and fostering of community. "Unless you expose the players to the community and encourage community interactions, there's not that much difference between your game and a single-player game," he opined.