I see you shiver with antici…pation


Dr. Frank-N-Furter
“So come up to the lab
And see what’s on the slab
I see you shiver with antici…pation
But maybe the rain
Isn’t really to blame
So I’ll remove the cause
But not the symptom”



Design should always seek to create a sense of anticipation in the player’s mind. Anticipation of progress, of gain, of reward, of challenge, of fear, of success or of anything that needs to be memorable. Effectively signposting, and selling the possible outcomes, challenges to be overcome and rewards can make them far more powerful and important to the player.

“Our brains come equipped with a biological mechanism that is more aroused when we anticipate a profit than when we get one.”

“Over millions of years of evolution, it was the thrill of anticipation that put our senses in a state of high awareness, bracing us to capture uncertain rewards. Our anticipation circuitry, says Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, acts as a “beacon of incentive” that enables us to pursue rewards that can be earned only with patience and commitment.”

Extend the uncertainty of collection/receipt with a degree of randomness in the specific rewards to heighten their impact on player’s drive to unlock and collect.

Progression through a game is a measure of a player’s mastery of the game. Progression should be structured and built around creating anticipation and then delivering on it. Starting with the underlying fantasy of the game that the game promises to deliver to the player, as well as the specific challenges and rewards.

The fire of expectation…

“…, it seems, somehow sears the memory of potential rewards more deeply into the brain. “The anticipation of reward,” says neurologist Emrah Düzel, “is more important for memory formation than is the receipt of reward.”

Memory of anticipated rewards = Greed…

“Anticipation has another unusual neural wrinkle. Brian Knutson has found that while your reflexive brain is highly responsive to variations in the amount of reward at stake, it is much less sensitive to changes in the probability of receiving a reward. “

An excellent summary on how anticipation affects investors;

Receipt of a reward is not as satisfying as the anticipation, the next anticipated reward should be established during or directly after the receipt of a reward.

“…there is a chemical release in the brain linked to, not only satisfaction, but perhaps more importantly to motivation as well.”
“…according to his conclusion, dopamine released in advance of the reward is a motivator for action. Dopamine motivates us to action, before we get the reward. Satisfaction is the result of committing to an action to obtain a product, rather than from the product itself.”


“…Investors often buy corporate stock before the release of much-hyped new products and then sell the shares following the release (“buy on the rumor and sell on the news”); e.g. Pixar stock drops immediately after new movie releases…”


Anticipation heightens emotional responses everything, the more anticipation you can build the more powerful the reaction.



  1. […] https://genecloud.wordpress.com/2007/12/02/i-see-you-shiver-with-anticipation/ […]

  2. […] Anticipation and PacingAnticipation is everything and is key to building any kind of tension in your game. Build and release, repeat. Consider foreshadowing as a means to create anticipation – Checkov’s gun […]

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