How Sky: Children of the Light Use Altruism to Motivate Players to Socialize in Games?

This article talks about the socialization system design of the game Sky: Children of the Light and how it motivates players to socialize better in the game.

Some might be familiar with the game Sky: Children of the Light, as we can often see it appear in wide recognition on social media: for the beautiful graphics, the moving music, and the socialization in game is warm and touching.

Compared with other games, its commercial performance is also excellent: along with the update and in-game activities, often rushed to the top of the best-seller list in Ios rankings. But when you look at the microtransaction in game, there is no mechanics like gacha games, no way to reinforce your equipment. The entire microtransaction system in game is actually very simple, as there is only the highest-grade gift card of 128 Yuan and candles of different prices.

Its good commercial performance can only rely on the huge number of players. What is it about the game that attracts so many players to enter the world of "Sky"? "Meet in the wind, dance in the light", this slogan itself might be the best answer.

The background of Sky: Children of the Light is based on a lost kingdom in the clouds, and the protagonist of the story is the children of light. Light and darkness coexisted harmoniously in the kingdom in the past, but the balance between the two is off unexpectedly, and the kingdom fell. And one prediction said: "In the near future, the children will return and bring light back to this kingdom." And players will take on the role of "children of light" and start the journey of "sky" from the rainy and misty seashore.


1. The same initial image eliminates differentiation

One important goal to use a grey child with no gender or race as the initial image is to eliminate the differentiation between players. In the process of contact and communication with others, players will not be influenced by information given by their appearances, such as the race and skin color of the other players, and therefore, no prejudice will arise.

In some online games, we often see players with big gold wings or cool colorful effects that symbolize their amount of paying. In Sky: Children of Light, there are also costumes that represent you are a veteran, but here, the concept of the veteran is redefined. This is because these costumes represent the player's commitment to helping others. This design reflects an altruism-driven social mechanics.

2. Motivating socialization with altruism

In the game, players will thank others for the help they provide by giving hearts, perhaps for taking them to fly, or for accompanying them, or even meeting them, as the game itself encourages players to do so.


Once players have gained hearts, they can go and exchange it for costumes, emoticons, and other items which can express themselves, like fireworks and musical instruments. When you use them with others, you have more opportunities to express yourself, and other players might give back to you some gifts. When you receive the hearts, you can then go on to get more such items, and in turn gain more opportunities to be recognized by other players.

Thus, a cycle of "express yourself - gain gratitude - socialize" is created. Driven by this motivation, more and more players will enter the cycle in one way or another, and players will become more articulate, more attractive, and interesting.

You can imagine if a veteran helps a new player, and after the new player becomes an experienced player, they, in turn, want to help other new players as well. Players remember this unique social experience in the game and build friendships through this altruistic game mechanic.


There is a question in a game community: "Why do veterans in the Sky: Children of the Light like to take those new players? What are the benefits?" The following answer states: "When helping new ones, I can always recall being helped by others, and that feeling is very warm." That's right, it's not because there are any benefits to being willing to help others, just want to continue to share the goodwill they once felt.

3. Increasing the costs of social behavior to reduce bad interactions

What's more, the game designers also reduce bad social interactions by increasing the cost of socialization.

In common MMO games, the designers tend to reduce the social threshold to a minimum, worrying that players will not be able to find friends in the game. For example, some games will provide a very convenient system for players to become close brothers, get married, and so on. Although this greatly facilitates players to establish relationships with other players, it may also produce some bad social interactions. Because players may have conflicts with others, and abuse others, which can even affect their real life.


In Sky: Children of the Light, you will find that making friends is not that simple, as social interaction is costly. For example, when you want to contact a stranger, you have to pay a certain amount of candles. This kind of interacting includes two strangers sitting on a bench (when the players sit on the same bench, he can chat directly with the stranger) and chatting as well. This is because the original intention of the game was to build a positive. warm atmosphere, so harmful interactions between players, such as cheating is reduced by increasing the cost of socializing. Here, players interact with others, because the willingness of “I want to be friends with him", not for any other reason.

Of course, the social interaction between players is also mutual. Only when both people light the candle do they become friends. In this way, it allows players who want to socialize to make friends, and also allows players who want to play the game alone to not be disturbed by others players.


It is worth noting that in Sky: Children of the Light, whether or not players establish social relationships with others, does not affect their progress in the main storyline.


The producer of Sky: Children of the Light once mentioned in an interview that the game is about gratitude and giving. And it does achieve its goal of allowing players to harvest warmth through sharing and gratitude.


[1] John Hughes: Designing Social Play for Sky: Children of the Light[2] Jennie Kong: Evolving Emotional Storytelling in thatgamecompany's Sky

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