It starts with human psychology. My prescription for Legend Bowl and SPG is to implement in-game pop-up badges to encourage more intrinsically competitive LB experiences — key for a game without competitive online play.
Game design elements are increasingly becoming the center of a player’s game experience. Achievement tracks can intrinsically motivate players and shape their behaviors.
The highest-rated and highest-selling titles leverage achievements and badges. 343’s Halo Infinite drops badges for unique and skillful plays in its sandbox multiplayer matches, and even Apple uses them in its goal-oriented Apple watch. The achievement tracks appeal to our brain chemistry by offering players recognition, intermittent success, and rewards. And it works.
According to a 2015 study on player behavior by Huotari Humari, achievements increase self-efficacy. Badges or rewards give players a belief and clear understanding of what is achievable in a game. Consequently, badges can foster a more competitive player base for a given title.
Secondly, achievements create a dopamine hit. Per Hamari, “the completion of goals leads to increased satisfaction, which [can improve] performance within the same activities.”
In summary: self-efficacy is sparked, satisfaction ensues, and the performance begins to peak. When combined, the effects reinforce a player’s belief in one’s abilities, and those players are more likely to pursue similar achievements in the future, seeking similar rewards.
Legend Bowl can develop a synergistic trinity by awarding pop-up badges for big hits and all of the best, high-skill plays. On-screen pop-up badges resemble achievements and reward systems in their most concentrated form. The achievements will keep us coming back for more to try and top personal records. Most importantly, the intrinsic motivation that badges lend is paramount for Legend Bowl since it does not feature an online competitive play.
Legend Bowl has the digital art to create sought-after badges right now.
For badges to be most effective, there are several key design points to consider. According to Hamari’s 2015 study, “a badge consists of a signifying element (the visual and textual cues of a badge), rewards (the earned badge), and the fulfillment conditions which determine how players can attain the badge.
Legend Bowl’s art lends itself to creating adorable and collectible pixel badges. For example, the game has a trophy room in development, featuring gold pixel trophies for its championship season mode. Ideally, the badges would be collectible by LB players.
Legend Bowl’s charming trophies are a day-one draw. They are simplified, potent, and royalty-free. The minute the trophies go live, players will be motivated to earn them. Some variation of these trophies could be used for on-screen badge rewards, encouraging players to lock in to improve their Legend Bowl skills.
Finding a Legend Bowl Flow
Badges can profoundly affect players’ state of mind. They are simultaneously a medium and a reward.
The badges communicate to a player that informs them they made a great play; that they are playing as the designer intended. This in-game form of feedback promotes psychological flow for the player.
The positive feedback rewards the pursuit of highly-skilled plays. Through repetition, the badge alerts can guide a player into a state of auto-pilot where the player can focus on perfecting timing and skill. The dual nature of badges as both feedback and reward can foster a state of psychological flow and enjoyable gaming sessions.
Psychological flow is evidence of a positive game experience — the end game for a developer.
The argument against these design elements might be that the game is simulation at heart and adding pop-ups would create an arcade-style feel. My position against this premise is two-fold. One, SPG can tactfully code the pop-up badges. Second, the game is tactical at its core, and audiovisual design elements to overlay on top will not change that fact. I am recommending enhancing the experience without modifying any components of gameplay.
Code Stacking with Badges
Additional benefits will begin to come to fruition as the game develops. The badges would pair nicely within a stat tracking system tied to player profiles.
Of course, once LB begins to track stats, players will want to compare ranks with online leaderboards. A phenomenon termed social anchoring. Players tend to look for objective data to compare their skills. Accordingly, they peg themselves to a spot on an achievement leaderboard, setting goals for themselves and recalibrating as they see fit.
We can begin to see how badges constitute the first step to implementing a more competitive Legend Bowl environment. The next step would be profiles and badge tracking. And then lastly, online leaderboards.
I want a Legend Bowl where we can compete with the best players in the world and achieve a state of flow in the process. I envision a Legend Bowl where every play is rich with the potential to earn coveted Legend Bowl art for my trophy room. And a Legend Bowl where its badges take on a cultural phenomenon on their own.
I believe badges are the first step in cultivating a passionate eSports Legend Bowl community.