Article: Begy, J. & Consalvo, M. (2011). Achievements, Motivations and Rewards in Faunasphere

Game Studies LogoTitle: Achievements, Motivations ans Rewards in Faunasphere
Author: Jason Begy & Mia Consalvo
Year: 2011
Additional: Game Studies 11 (1)
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A persistent topic in MMO studies is player motivation: why do players play? Attempts to answer this question have resulted in several frameworks, but these are built from studies of games that are very similar to each other. MMOs tend to feature fictional worlds drawn from common fantasy and science fiction tropes, and gameplay tends to focus on continually improving one’s personal power through leveling up a character and finding new equipment. This in turn has shaped how we interpret player activity. However, casual games developer Big Fish Game’s first MMO, Faunasphere, breaks several of these tropes. Players are cast as “caretakers” of small animals, referred to as “fauna,” and must guide them through the world while improving their home and keeping them happy. The game is almost entirely nonviolent, and the reward for leveling up is not a gain in personal power, but rather an egg used to hatch a new creature to care for. This study examines the players of Faunasphere to determine who they are, what their backgrounds are, and what motivates them to continue playing. We argue that while their motivations seem to fit traditional frameworks, the nature of player activity (as defined by the game’s fiction) is significantly different. This is due in part to the game’s reward structure, which is designed to continually reinforce the player’s position as caretaker: every reward in the game either can be or must be used to further care for one’s fauna. We conclude with a call for greater contextualization when discussing concepts such as reward and achievement: as Faunasphere shows, the fictional world of a game has a strong impact on how players interpret their in-game activities.

An Overview of Faunasphere
Research Questions and Previous Work
Who Plays Faunasphere, How Much, & Why
Players, Fiction, and Rewards

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