Metagame Rewards Survey Results & Analysis

Posted: July 13, 2010 by Jay Steven Anyong in Roleplaying Games

Remember way back when I wrote an article on Metagame Rewards?  Well, in an attempt to come up with a good indicator of the type of rewards that my gaming group prefer, I decided to ask my players to answer a digital version of 7-sided die‘s metagame rewards survey on a form I hashed together on google docs.

7-sided Die’s survey lists each reward along with the following choices, to which I have assigned the following values:

  • Need! 2 points
  • Enjoy 1 point
  • Don’t Care 0 points
  • Do Not Want -1 point

It took a bit of time to get them all to answer, but the results are very interesting:

Results:

As of this writing, eight people (including myself) have answered the survey and while I’m still waiting for one or two more people to respond, I’m already seeing interesting results beginning to surface.  First of all, let’s take a look at the totals for each kind of Metagame Reward:

Asabiyah, or Group Feeling, fun derived from working as a team – 11
Agon, the fun of winning against someone else at the table – 3
Alea, the fun of taking a big risk – 10
Catharsis, the feeling of release after an intense or overwhelming experience – 12
Closure, the fun of completion, of bringing an end to a task – 12
Expression, the desire to be creative – 10
Fiero, the fun of overcoming adversity – 12
Humor, gaming for laughs – 8
Kairosis, fulfillment from change and development – 8
Kenosis, feeling of being deeply engaged with a character  – 9
Kinesis, tactile fun, fiddling with maps and tokens – 4
Ludus, the fun of working within a system and optimizing performance within the rules – 5
Naches, the fulfillment of seeing someone you’ve taught go on to do well with that knowledge – 6
Paida, freewheeling player fun where rules are a convenience – 4
Schadenfreude, the delight in the suffering of others – 4
Sociability, the fun of being able to spend time with other people – 12
Venting, the desire to work out player frustrations or other emotions using the game as a means – 2

As noted above, the highest scoring Metagame Rewards, at least for my group are: Asabiyah, Alea, Catharsis, Closure, Expression, Fiero and Sociability.  This is an interesting mix, but one that does make sense in the context of who we are.

Findings:

I believe that the Sociability score is primarily due to the fact that our group was an organic one that grew out of a network of friends.  Rather than being absolute strangers at the beginning, the original members of the group were friends first, who brought over and introduced other friends to our hobby.

As for the rest of the highest scoring rewards, it paints a group profile that GMs running for this gaming group could benefit from.  If distilled into a single sentence, one could say that “This gaming group enjoys working as a group, and enjoys taking risks against adversity.  They are is success-oriented, focusing on definitively ending threats and challenges with a variety of creative means.”

Accuracy:

However, there is one thing to remember with regards to my gaming group:  Given our numbers, it becomes necessary for us to split up in smaller teams.  Often with 2 GMs running for 3-4 players each concurrently.  As such the player and GM composition of each game changes, and the values change with them.

For example, I’m currently playing under fellow GM Sheimaruen’s Hunter: the Vigil game.  My fellow players are Silver Countess, Hikkikomori and Dulio.  Taking their individual answers to the surveys, the results shift somewhat to reveal the following:

The Hunter: the Vigil group is:

  • Heavily success-oriented – The team values completion of tasks often with a strong eye towards doing so in the shortest amount of time and in the most efficient manner.
  • Teamwork dependent - The players understand the necessity of teamwork and operate as a team with little prodding from the GM.
  • Not in it for the Laughs – Humor drops significantly from the average of the survey results above, showing that the Hunter team takes things very seriously, and prefers it that way.
  • Moderately Risk-Taking - Two of four members of the team enjoy taking big (hopefully calculated) risks.

I’d say that it is a pretty good portrait of the Hunter group as a whole.

Conclusions:

The Metagame Rewards Survey is an interesting profiling tool that helps GMs find out exactly where their players get their fun in a game.  Likewise, other uses for this system is to see if a given game’s playing style will fit with a group.  For example, this group tried Paranoia, with poor results.  Nobody, even the GM who pitched it, ended up having any sort of fun at all.

In hindsight, it would really not have worked out at all.  Paranoia espouses Humor, Agon and Schadenfreude, all three of which don’t score very high in the group’s preferred Metagame Rewards.

On the other hand, World of Darkness games are always popular in this group, given that as a storytelling game of the horror genre, it appeals to Catharsis, Expression and Fiero.  These on the other hand score fairly well on the group’s preferences.

These results bring up an interesting means of evaluating a game’s fit for the group, as well as which campaigns will ultimately be likely to bring fun to the table.  This isn’t the end-all and be-all of a game’s fit, however.  This group doesn’t necessarily have a high Ludus score, but they took to HERO quite well, and are very happy with Fantasy Craft, so certainly there are other elements in play.

That said, the Metagame Rewards Survey should be just one tool in a GM’s arsenal of feedback and communication.  Listening to your players and talking things over is the most basic and most powerful means of getting an idea of how to make your game more fun for you and your players.

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Comments
  1. Hikkikomori says:

    Bah. Psycho-babble.

    Where is the loot!

  2. Runeslinger says:

    I have never approached a needs/interests analysis with any of my gaming groups in such an overt and explicit way, but I have to assess groups in this sort of way all the time at work.

    Perhaps it is time to try – not in the sense of figuring out who they are and what they like, but in pitching and preparing games, a more detailed sense of what they believe that they like might serve as a valuable limiting device to guide planning.

    • I agree that this method is actually interesting in terms of putting limits on how deeply you should plan for certain interests. Sometimes I get carried away when I plan a setting, obsessing over things that never really see play since the players are simply not interested in that facet of the game.

  3. Guillermo says:

    Are you going to post the actual questionnaire for public consumption? I already know my group is in it for the Scadenfreude, but confirmation would be amusing.

    • Hi Guillermo!

      7-sided die made the questionnaire into an awesome pdf you can print out and hand out to your group over here. The version I sent to my players was essentially the same thing built as a form in Google Docs.

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