The 5 Gaming Gifts That Keep On Giving

Games As Psychology Lessons 3.1

The 5 Types of Game Rewards

 If you have come to this article via“Games as Psychology Lessons 2”  then you will already have learned that in gaming, our every in-game action is fuelled by a sense of reward and that we are motivated to progress through a game by the belief that we shall unlock or discover new and enjoyable elements of the game.

On the surface, there appear to be a million different types of rewards in gaming : weapons, armour, a host of different levelling stats, cars and other vehicles, points, story development, cutscenes, money, swords, new enemies and on and on and on. Yet when one digs a little deeper it becomes clear that there are five overarching “types” into which all these rewards fall. These five “types” represent the psychological effects that different in-game rewards have on the gamer. These types can also be viewed as the five reasons we play games.
This list shall showcase the five types of gaming rewards and explain how developers use them to keep the player hooked on the game.

Game Reward Type Number 1: Empowerment


Some of you will already have read The Top 9.5 Games That Make You Feel Powerful and will have your own opinions of what creates a sense of power in a gamer. Whatever your opinion, I’m sure you agree that one of the greatest parts of games is their ability to make you feel kickass!


What is it?      Simple. Empowerment is the ability of a game to make a player feel more powerful than they do in real life. This could also be seen as heightening a player’s sense of self importance and giving more weight and value to their choices and actions


How is it Achieved? Empowerment is actually one of the easier types of rewards to achieve. Essentially it is achieved by proving an exaggerated result to a player’s actions. For instance, when a player shoots an enemy in the head the enemy doesn’t just fall over and die; more likely their head will explode. Why? Cause it makes us feel like we freaking OWN, that’s why! 🙂

Type of Empowering Rewards

Empowerment comes in a variety of different forms in games, from giving a player a massive gun and allowing them to blow up buildings, to giving super-human strength and letting them rip people in two. It can also be achieved through construction in city-building type games, where the player has control over the development of their own land, to character creation games where a player can literally play god and create a whole new form of life.

Its function as a Reward: In order to make a player feel powerful a few key guidelines must be met. Firstly, the player must believe that they are the ones generating the power. There is nothing special about being given power. Players want to feel as though the actions and decisions they made in the game resulted in the strength of their character. In other words: they want to believe they created the power themselves. It is partly for this reason that a game’s pick-up items are staggered throughout levels. Forcing a player to complete a mission before giving them a new item makes them feel more involved in the development of their character and of the game itself.


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Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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