After having defined what games actually are it is now important to identify what motivates players to play games. The question whether intrinsic or extrinsic reward mechanisms have to be triggered in order to motivate players sustainably has been subject to many studies in recent years. At first sight, external influences play a major role in gaming and related marketing activities. That is why reward and incentive structures are an essential part of almost any game on the market.
The question how players can be intrinsically motivated to play or keep playing a game is the core of game design. McGonigal argues that players always try to reach the limits of their ability instinctively. During the course of a game, players cease to think and act reasonably compared to real-world practices. Instead, they seem to dive into the virtual world and start to focus on the peculiar reality of the game. This “narrowing of consciousness” is considered to be achievement-oriented motivation.