Possible Duplicates:
What should a game have in order to keep humans playing it?

How can I make my score-based game addictive

What makes puzzle games addictive?

I am creating simple game for iPhone like "Bubble Explode". Generally, what elements of game make it addictive and exciting for similar simple games.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/5279/… and gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/5667/…, this is really a vague subject and the answers always end up pretty useless and forum-y. \$\endgroup\$ – user744 Jan 7 '11 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems like looking for duplicate is more important then trying to give good answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Ross Jan 7 '11 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ The point of marking questions as a duplicate is to funnel all the answers into one question, making that question the best resource. Splitting the good answers across multiple questions is as bad as not getting answers in the first place (and worse, if you're trying to get a good Google position). \$\endgroup\$ – user744 Jan 7 '11 at 21:42

Flow is one part of it, as notabene mentioned. However behind the effects is a whole host of psychological effects that combine to make games fun or addictive. MMORPGs, especially WoW, thrive off of such tools, to make themselves addictive at the very least.

Behavioural Game Design is a good, short introduction to the psychological toolset that tackles some key concepts. Psychology Is Fun is a good follow-up, as it goes into more depth, especially on generating a sense of Flow.

If you're after more, it's no understatement that the professionals who blog for Gamasutra seem to have turned it into a treasure trove for this sort of thing. They're how I found out about these concepts myself. Googling "psychology site:gamasutra.com" turns up results such as:


Very addictive is so called flow feeling. It means that the game is challenging but also not that hard and great is when combined with possibility of recieving some rewards. First reward is super easy, next harder and so on.

Stackexchange is great example of this. You came here, ask question and receive some reputation and badges. And then you want more. And its harder to get them. You start answering questions to receive more reputation and badges. And next badges and site privileques needs some of your work, but you know that you can get them. It's pretty addictive :)

Or maybe better example is brainwashing FarmVille on facebook.

flow on wikipedia

  • \$\begingroup\$ It is known as "gamefication" - adding game elements to non game subjects. \$\endgroup\$ – Ross Jan 7 '11 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Stack Exchange and Farmville are variable ratio reward compulsion loops, which are nearly the opposite of flow in terms of psychological experience. \$\endgroup\$ – user744 Jan 8 '11 at 22:12

There's this thread on puzzle games in particular. Since I don't know bubble explode, I can't say if it's exactly what you want.
And this one on score-based games, which is slightly less useful but still a good source.

But some general ideas from there:

  • Make it easy to replay
  • Make it fun
  • Simple controls
  • Make it challenging, so the player wants to continue
  • But not too challenging, so they don't want to give up

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