Shringi Kumari

PhD Student, York


Shringi joined Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence at the University of York in October 2016, returning to academia after a decade long career as a game programmer, designer and studio head spanning India, Germany, the UK, and major companies such as Electronic Arts and Zynga. She did her Bachelors in Computer Science Engineering where she started developing games. After working in games for a couple of years she travelled to Dundee for her MSc in Computer Games Technology. She found herself attracted towards the mobile platform which exposed newer play styles and gaming experiences. With IGGI, she hopes to understand and utilise human psychology to answer key questions about player experience.


Digging into human psychology and the grammar of games – to find, understand and address the needs of a casual/mid-core gamer

The video game industry continues to ride a growing wave of ‘casual game’ successes. This highlights the need for research to understand player’s motivation behind engaging with such games and acknowledge the boundaries of these games. While there is a good breadth of literature in the field of player motivation, the ‘casual game’ player who needs a smoother entry curve and has a unique engagement model is vastly under-explored. It still remains to be understood as to what drives a player to pick a game and then persist with engagement and what leads to disengagement.

While data analysis can lead us to finding engagement patterns, it leaves us with shallow information on the reason behind the engagement numbers. Existing work in the field of Player Motivation does address the problem in interesting ways but there still are obvious gaps. To outline some, the phases of engagement (continuation, disengagement) and its relationship with motivation is weakly defined; the work is majorly confined to a certain type of games or audience; concepts like boredom, relaxation, curiosity, distraction described by players as needs from a ‘casual game’ have not been discussed. Along with this there is lack of understanding of individual differences in players and the parallels drawn from psychology are vastly limited to Self Determination Theory and some ideas around Flow. From a methodological point of view, it can’t be emphasised enough that hardly any work has gone to a deeper level of game mechanics, objectives, rules, gameplay  to explain motivation making the existing work much isolated to trait based psychology. While the existing literature attempt to  describe who the different player types are and what they may need from a game, the research so far has little to no insight on what happens during gameplay interaction with the game elements to motivate a player into continuation or demotivate a player to disengagement.

This research hopes to bridge some of these gaps specially from the point of view of ‘casual, mid-core games’, methodology used and stronger integration with psychology behind human motivation.

More than anything understanding players would create empathy within teams and towards the players. Specially the often dismissed casual game audience that are less understood. The larger goal of course is to make better games in general.


Home Institution: University of York
Supervisors: Jonathan Freeman (Goldsmiths), Sebastian Deterding (York), and Paul Cairns (York)

My Sessions

Player Motivation: A Messy Mosaic

What we know, what we don’t, and where to go from here