Today’s topic is far from being an exclusive to games.
Curiosity is a motivational engine that lead the human species from the caves to the smartphone era and beyond. It’s something so powerful that by itself is enough to lead a person to make awesome discoveries as well as getting that same person in trouble.
The metaphor “Curiosity killed the cat” is probably something familiar to you and it is just one of the ways of warning someone against the risks of excessive curiosity. Despite the fact that it seems an exaggerated view on curiosity, when you consider the fact that curiosity is probably that one thing which makes you try something you’ve never tried before, from which you have no knowledge about and from which you don’t know what results to expect, it kind of makes sense.
In games, stories, movies and a lot of other media, curiosity is used and abused to keep the consumer focused on that same media. For example, when in a movie the character finds a mysterious device and the exact purpose of that device is not in some way immediately explained to the spectator, most people feel the desire to understand what is that all about. And it isn’t something that goes away easily, that piece of the puzzle must fit somewhere and you just need to understand where and why.
If you think about it, it’s not hard to remember a moment when you’ve asked yourself while watching a movie, playing a game or reading a story:
- “Who is that person? Does that person has something to do with what’s going on?”
- “What will happen if the character opens that door? What is behind that door?”
- “What key is this? What will it open?”
And that keeps you going, makes you wait to complete the puzzle. And you wait.
Games tend to use this well, the good ones at least. However not only in games and movies you see curiosity used as a tool to attract people. In marketing, for example, this is often also the case.
Curiosity is a powerful tool. When building a gamification experience it must always be considered when it is possible to do so.
As a species, we are prepared to adapt to unexpected situations and problems, curiosity is just a way that our own nature has to make us adapt to those situations. We are constantly trying to solve every kind of problems around us, even if they are not an immediately perceived necessity. What triggers that behavior is usually the curiosity that we feel and which is one of the major drives in our one evolution as as a species.