I heard through the Games 4 Change mailing list about this article on motivations in gaming:
They talk about extrinsic rewards versus intrinsic, and they identify three intrinsic motivations that I quite like:
- Autonomy — We like to have meaningful choices and don’t like it when we cannot choose. We also feel satisfied when we are endorsing and valuing our current activity.
- Mastery — We enjoy the feeling of gaining skill in an area that has value.
- Relatedness — We have a basic need to relate and interact with others in ways that we feel matter. We want to be feel supported and valued by those around us.
Those sound like great goals for developing productive and happy people. I suppose promoting those goals through educational games would count as Relatedness.