Developer Journal : Rewards in Games

As of the 1st of February, we covered responses to rewards in games within our lecture.

Rewards can be anything players earn from gameplay, players are given achievements for accomplishing certain tasks and improving their performance with scoring, these can be a good incentive to keep the player interested and playing your game.

“Rewards and scoring should also correlate to what you want people to learn and the feedback you want to offer to them re: their performance.”

Sharon Boller, 2013

Rewards can be good teaching tools for rewarding the player with feedback for specific tasks you want them to complete, this can be an effective way to teach certain gameplay elements you want to teach by offering them something in return such as some loot. (See Figure 1)

Image result for quest rewards
Figure 1 (

However there is a psychological effect to this, whenever we receive an award this triggers a special behaviour in our brain that allows it to get stimulated by the process of receiving a reward – This in turn leads us to seeking out more rewarding stimuli.

An example of a game that uses rewards like this could be “Pokémon Go”, which is an Augmented Reality Game about collecting Pokémon. Within it, you can collect Pokémon of all sorts of rarities – this is done using a schedule of reinforcement called a Fixed Ratio: This is where the reward occurs after a certain amount of actions.

In the Fixed Ratio schedule of reinforcement, a specific number of actions must occur before the behaviour is rewarded., 2016

If the user catches enough Pokémon, they will be rewarded with a level up, or even possess enough candy to evolve their Pokémon – There is also a slim chance the players will end up coming across rare Pokémon, which keeps players interested. (See Figure 2)

Figure 2 (

This is what makes the app addictive, as players will continue to check the app regularly throughout the day due to these regular reward schedules.

In my personal opinion, I think rewards can be a good as a learning tool to the player and encourages them to play better at the game via scoring systems. This can help the player to enjoy the game much more through a fun system that rewards and incentivises good play.

However, I disagree with using rewards to keep players addicted through tedious gameplay as it means your game gets less fun and becomes more of a chore to play through. Many games use this to further desensitise the player’s stimuli and keeps them playing for much longer.


Boller, S., 2013. Learning Game Design: Rewards and Scoring | Knowledge Guru. [online] Knowledge Guru. Available at:,Some%20games%20have%20them.&text=If%20the%20task%20in%20a,for%20performance%20rather%20than%20completion. [Accessed 11 February 2021].

The Conversation. 2016. The power of rewards and why we seek them out. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2021].

RuneScape Wiki. 2021. Post-quest rewards. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2021].

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