Have you ever played a game and then completed want to stop playing it after a couple of seconds? How can we compel the player to take action within our games? The answer is urgency; we, we need to create a sense of urgency and here are tips to do that.


Creating Urgency

“No, I do not want to play your game. Where are the constraints?” These are questions a player might ask themselves when your playing game if you have no reason for them to progress.  There are games that have few rewards for just playing; these games are very arcade in nature (Mario, Sonic, etc), but they succeed because they instill a sense of urgency in the player. Now, here’s how they do just that my friend.

The techniques these games employ are subtle, such as timers. Timers add weights to the scores by compelling the player to complete the level within the time limit or lose. Notice that it’s actually the timer that adds meaning to the other systems such as the lives and the score. Lives serve very little purpose in the game without the player being forced to progress in some way. If for example in Mario, there was no timer and the only threat was the Goomba’s, the only thing that would push you forward is your curiosity, but then the other systems such as the score are not valuable and lives are a little less valuable. Now, the timer is one way to create urgency, but there are other ways.


Enemies can be a useful way to create urgency within the game depending on the objective and lose condition of the game. For example, the player spawns in areas surrounded by enemies, thus if the player wants to survive and move on, they have to kill all the enemies. Urgency is created because their life is on the line and they have invested in some aspect of your game to progress. Notice that they elude to a more general idea for your games?


The Urgency Objective

The point of urgency is to compel the player to play; it’s kind of like having a once a day sale at your store — people will take advantage. To create urgency for the player we have to create risks for inaction.  Either way, using these techniques will help you keep your player’s moving and playing your game.

Until next time, stay tuned!

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