In a previous post, I described the general categories of the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI). In this post, I will be explaining the components in the mastery category: Achievement, Collecting, Discovery, Process, Skill.
These components each have to do with some sort of control or knowledge of something in a game. They are tied to the ideas of completion, beating the game, and being the best at something.
The achievement component deals with gaining mastery over completion in a game. It describes finishing a game or an individual task and aligns with the purpose of external “achievements” or “trophies” set by the game developer. The more things there are to do in a game, the stronger the achievement component is. It isn’t enough for the game to simply be long and have a lot of required tasks, though. A game with many optional tasks is strong in achievement as it provides the player with more opportunity to control how much they want to do in a game. Players strong in achievement enjoy completing games entirely.
The desire to find all of something in a collectable list is what is described by the collection component. The collecting component represents a mastery over countable elements that can be obtained. A game that has a large number of similar elements to find or get will have a strong collecting component. The elements need to be distinguishable from each other in some way, be it by appearance, by name, by location or any characteristic which can separate one from another. Additionally, the collectable element will most often be finite. Obtaining gold in a game where gold can be gotten anywhere and is infinitely obtainable does not point to a strong collecting component. Conversely, a game that has thirty gold coins in it, scattered around the game world somewhere, each of which have a different relief, points to a stronger collecting component. Even stronger is a game that has many different kinds of things to collect, such as weapons, pets, abilities, houses and followers. A strong collecting component for a player means that the player enjoys searching and obtaining all of something to complete sets.
The discovery component represents mastery over knowledge of a game’s world. It is searching for the unknown and looking for knowledge within the game, to better know the world and its elements. A game that provides many places to explore, particularly optional ones, will be stronger in discovery. A deep level of information about the history, events and inhabitants of the game’s world also points to a strong discovery component. Games that have a large amount of minutia about what is in the game will have a stronger discovery component. Players who are strong in discovery want to know everything about the game’s world. They enjoy exploring and finding hidden places, as well as secret knowledge. The more they can find out about the game, the better. If a game has many story elements to it, the player with a strong discovery components wants to know the whole story, not just the important points of the main game.
The process component deals with mastery of the knowledge of a game’s systems. This means understanding what everything in the game does or how it works. The more data a game has or the more formulas it uses the stronger the process component will be. The process component is really about knowing how the game works underneath the layer of the game world. It is about rules and mechanics, statistics and abilities. Any game that deals with a lot of numbers will likely have a higher process component. The systems have to be understandable and testable, though. A player that has a strong process skill will enjoy figuring out how something works. They want to spend the time to understand the data and formulae that underlie what they do in the game.
The skill component deals with the mastery of performing actions in a game. A game with a strong skill component will have many actions for the player to perform, and understand. The component describes the ability to do any action a situation requires. Attached to this is a knowledge of when and how an action should be executed, as well as how actions work together or against each other in a game. The more actions the game requires the player to know, the more skill component the game will have. It is important for the actions to be important. Useless actions do not contribute to the skill component, but might contribute to another component. The skill component is about using actions and if an action isn’t usable, it does not factor in. A player strong in skill will enjoy being able to pull off any action in the game. Actions that are hidden or more difficult to perform tend to be appealing to players with a strong skill component as well.