The Best Game Needs No Motivation
and commented. Now I made the comment its own standalone concept post.
There are two concepts that are opposite to each other: rational selfishness and enlightened self-interest.
The way I remember them is:
Rational selfishness => help yourself to help others
Enlightened self-interest => help others to help yourself
Both involve some kind of tradeoff.
They both require patience and foresight because there's a time delay to the second order effect. Help X to help Y where help Y is the second order effect.
Patience and foresight is not always common or easy. If playing long term games, or positive sum games is easy, we would have no need for motivation, coaching, government, or laws in society.
The Ideal Game In Terms of Motivation
Ideally, if we can find a game that's not just positive sum, but also such that we play it
1. there's an immediate benefit to ourselves first time and every time we play it
2. there's an eventual benefit to other people, the more we play it (hence positive sum)
3. there's another second order benefit to ourselves because we benefitted others from our playing it long term in point 2.
If we can find a game like that, then we don't need any motivational coaching and advice. The playing of the game will take care of the motivation itself.
One example to solve for point 1 is the often silly-sounding cliche thrown around too easily, “it’s about the journey, not the destination”. It’s thrown around too easily with good intention.
Because if you can play a game that gives you a predictable dopamine rush, why would you still need to be motivated?
Contrast Against Most Games We Know
Sadly, most games that give you predictable dopamine rush do not benefit you or others in the long run, except the peddlers financially. Think vices like drugs.
Other games that benefit you in the long run or others in a positive sum way, don’t predictably give you dopamine rush. You may have to reframe each game interaction through a long period of conditioning.
Such as how parents praise their children with a “good boy” or “good girl” every time they do something positive that lacks an inherent dopamine rush. The “journey, not destination” cliche from earlier is another form of conditioning.
Or making it super convenient by reducing the friction or difficulty so that it becomes part of your lifestyle.
Such as putting your exercise outfit at bedside to make it that 10% easier to actually go exercise the next day.
What We Can Try
Either continuously shape the games you want to play to be in the ideal form or simply keep looking until you find games that are in the ideal form for you.
You can also do both at the same time.
A post by Seth Godin that's related