Empirical Game Design for Explorers

John Quick and Robert Atkinson


The explorer player type has remained a focal point in discussions of game design and research for several years. Though valuable insights have built an understanding of explorers from online multiplayer and individual characteristic perspectives, there still remains a need to further understand and empirically specify what aspects of games are appealing to explorers. Accordingly, the Gameplay Enjoyment Model (GEM; Quick, Atkinson, & Lin, 2012) provides a detailed, empirical perspective on the explorer through a set of specific game design features. Using these features, games can be designed to leverage what is known about how explorers experience enjoyment through games. A practical demonstration of how to design Exploration features into an actual game is offered through an analysis of Pathfinders Way. This article aims to encourage a deeper understanding of explorers and provide practical guidance on how empirical research results can be incorporated into game design practice.