For a psychology research project we're looking for short (ca. 5 minute) single-player games to observe people's basic motivation. We would like to ask people to list games that provide the closest possible (even if not perfect) fit to each description. We need 2-3 promising candidates for each of the following 3 categories.

We would be happy with anything we can use, build on, mod, change slightly etc. to fit our purposes.

A) Game that taps into affiliation

Affiliation involves being emotionally close to others and establishing new relationships. The game should revolve around meeting other characters. I.e. through simple means (clicking certain actions) one can explore possibilities to meet friends. Requests to establish relationships should be accepted in most cases, because the player is well-liked. This liking not related to status or performance, but to the warm fuzzy feeling of friendliness. When getting to know each other, many commonalities between player and character emerge and are happily acknowledged.

B) Game that taps into achievement

Achievement involves mastering difficult goals. In achievement games you would solve several quests by using some ability (speed, spatial thinking, strategy use). It should adapt to the player's ability, so that it is always possible to solve 60-70% of the quests. Player's should be able to improve their abilities and results with some training. Results should always be related to the individual performance, so there is no high score ranking with others or some such.The goal of this game should simply be to remain focused on a task of moderate difficulty, trying to become better at it.

C) Game that taps into power

Power involves obtaining social status and influencing other people. A power game would involve influencing characters and yielding reactions. It should have a low difficulty and work without points (kind of like a cheat mode maybe). In other words: Influencing other people should be easy, not dependent on achievement or liking. For example, the ability to change the lives of others could be due to insurmountable and unquestionable status differences between the person playing (e.g., a deity, a biologist) and the characters of the game (sticking to the example: mortals, ants).

Now, we hope to find resources we can re-use for our games. We don't have the ambition to create new games and many games already suit our needs. We only need the game to have at least 10 events relevant to the motive and to log these events (so we can align it with the reactions of our participants). If we can change it to do that, that'd be cool too.

Probably many quite simple games have been lost in the drawers of computer science students who made them as finger exercises and homework. We would only use these games in our research setting, so there is no commercial interest involved.

Many thanks in advance and best wishes from the whole lab!

we edited this in response to some comments

  • \$\begingroup\$ there was a game named baku baku, or it's a tetris-like game which can help you as your power game, and also there was almost similar opensource game named CrackAttack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ali1S232
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 18:39
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Some suggestions on finding games: visit game jam sites (Global Game Jam and Ludum Dare have many hundreds of games) and see if you can adapt anything found there. Or see if there's any game creation clubs at your university that you can ask for help. \$\endgroup\$
    – thedaian
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ hey! I think crack attack would be more of an achievement game (at least the one I just downloaded. from the sound of it baku baku also has an achievement component. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruben
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruben :carck attack and baku baku are both tetris like games, both have single player and 2 player modes. of course they can both be used as a achivement games, when playing multiplayer mode they can represent a power game (as I can understand from your defenition of power games) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ali1S232
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ The thing is, that we want to isolate the motives. Influencing others as in multiplayer mode is power-ish, but competition for points is achievement-ish. A prototypical power game would perhaps be a god game like Island god on facebook where you play God for little islanders. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruben
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 21:24

3 Answers 3


a) The Sims, FaceBook? (I know it's silly, but based on the stated requirements, I think facebook fits the bill :-P )
b) EA Skate (again, based on stated requirements, I think this fits. The game is very focused on the individual skills of the player)
c) Black & White, SimAnt

  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries about Facebook, it doesn't need to be a game by any standard definition and any idea helps. Can we adapt these games to our needs? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruben
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ You know, I apologize, I failed to see the line in the question where you stated that you need to be able to mod the games. All the ones mentioned are commercial titles (or products in the case of facebook) which cannot be modified per se. Of course, with facebook you can build apps that sit on top of their social infrastructure \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 15:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I added that line in response to a comment from DeadMG. I really like your suggestions (we had the facebook idea as well). We don't necessarily want to mod, we just need it to do a couple of things (I tried to outline our needs above). We can easily recreate a pseudo-facebook for example. We can't recreate Skate, so we either need to be able to mod it or get the logs (e.g. debug logs?). We don't want to publish the results. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruben
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 19:06

For point (B) you can give a try with the game called "achievement unlocked"

This game was supposed to be a joke about people just chasing achievements in games
it rewards you about quite everything (like just starting the game ^^)
But in fact it appears to be an addictive and rewarding memory and skill game
the achievement concept can't be more isolated than in this game !

Let me think about other points ...

Point (A) maybe you should try to steal the core mechanic of Pikmin series
"meeting other characters through simple means" and do things you should'nt be able to do alone.. this is all the game is about

Point (C)
I guess pikmin could also work here
i'm also thinking about


There are lots of choices to be made in the Mass Effect series, in fact every time there is a choice to be made there are options for doing the nice thing or the mean thing (and several more)... To lie or not to lie ect... The whole game is setup for kinda what you want really. Though the games are hours long every few mins there is another choice to be made and you have to decide what kind of person you want to be.

Its an RPG so theres plenty of achievement. And lots of power issues going into the story as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "...we're looking for short (ca. 5 minute) single-player games...." Mass Effect is not short by any means. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ thats why i said every 5 mins of that game has a choice, so you can split it up. \$\endgroup\$
    – EddieV223
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 0:09

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