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The GAMESbrief Glossary:
Authority is one of the six Influence Principles which are used to persuade people to buy products or services.
Nobody likes to feel that they bend easily to authority figures, but most of us do. We’re programmed to obey figures who seem to possess some kind of authority in a given situation. This principle works in many walks of life, but it also works in marketing – many advertisements, for example, use authority figures who seem trustworthy to advise us to buy specific products.
Games, too, can use Authority to guide player behaviour. Many free-to-play games give players a stock of premium currency at the beginning of the game, but then use an authority figure (often the guide in a tutorial of sorts) to instruct the player to spend the currency, which gets them used to the idea of possessing and spending premium currency early on in the game experience.
The Influence Principles are based on Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which you ought to read. The other five principles are Reciprocity, Commitment, Social Proof, Likeability and Scarcity.