Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Gameplay

Hey, folks — browsing around WordPress this evening, I came across an interesting essay by Chris Durston of the Overthinker Y blog.  The discussion centers around the things that give Skyrim its remarkable longevity, which includes both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

If I understand the essay correctly, the intrinsic factors are those designed into the game, the things Bethesda Software expected gamers to do and enjoy, like being the Dragonborn, hunting down bandits, etc.  The extrinsic factors are those things that the game is capable of handling, but may not have been intended by the developers, such as spending your entire Skyrim adventure as a farmer or a blacksmith.  These extrinsic factors are helped along further by an active and creative corps of modders.

There’s a lot more food for thought in the essay, so, as they say, read the whole thing.  And spend some time on the rest of the blog, too.  There’s some good stuff in there!

One thought on “Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Gameplay

  1. I’m flattered that you found my thoughts so interesting! I can’t imagine I’m the first to have thought of it, but as far as I know it’s not a commonly-drawn distinction in criticism or game theory at the moment. I think a lot of the games that have maintained a large fan base for a long time, or have become cult games into which hundreds of hours are sunk, are those which have a high potential for extrinsically-created player value.

    Liked by 1 person

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