One interesting type of play within Mastery play and Mastery games is that players aren’t always trying to improve themselves. Sometimes players like to enjoy the mastery they already have, or enjoy the game’s explicit reward structure. Doing their gathering rounds in WoW. Beating new players in Dota. Doing another round of Solitaire just for the enjoyment of it. Players often just enjoy displaying expertise in Mastery games, only discovering something new and getting slightly better in a way that feels coincidental.
I think of this “Mastered” play as part of the core of Mastery play. Often, our intrinsic enjoyment of something we’ve mastered is a big part of why we keep doing it. Mastered play shares the design traits that Mastery play has, but it’s definitely a subgenre of Mastery play that has value (enjoyment) and pitfalls (grinding) of its own.
The core thing that separates broad Mastery and Mastered play is a player’s indulgence in rewards in Mastered play. The REMA Model is learning focused, and doesn’t closely consider rewards and motivations from rewards. REMA is just one perspective, and rewards design is another. Rewards drive engagement and provide feedback in a way that is very useful for games. REMA, for example, definitely exists on the different reward time slices we typically use (1 second, 5 seconds, 1 minute, …1 hour, 1 day, etc). But REMA on the 1 second scale is not very enlightening: nearly all 1 second play is Mastery. Reward design, however, is crucial on the 1 second level.