Access Rewards

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Rewards that provide players with voluntary access to gameplay that previously did not have access to.

Not all games provide players with access to all gameplay content or all actions from the beginning. Those that don't often use this to make the availability of new content or actions into rewards for players. Since these types of rewards consist of providing new access they are classified as Access Rewards.


Characters in Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, the Elder Scrolls series, and the Fallout series can all develop, and when this happens players typically are given Access Rewards in new abilities and powers becoming available.

While some new abilities are unlocked in the Super Mario series, the games also show that Unlocking levels that players can choose between is another way of providing more game content for players as they play. While the need to have the right keys in Adventure show that such requirements have been present for a long time in Computer Games, the Hexen series introduce the idea of Unlocking multiple differently levels to players of First-Person Shooters so they could have a choice where to go next.

Using the pattern

Access Rewards relies on giving players new choices of gameplay rather than forcing that gameplay on players (see Facilitating Rewards for Rewards that unconditionally give players new Abilities or Actions). Access Rewards exist in mainly two forms, the ones that open access to new parts of Game Worlds and the ones that open access to gameplay abilities and narration. The first typically makes use of Conditional Passageways and affect how Impassible Terrain, Inaccessible Areas, and Levels function in a game. The second relies on the use of Unlocking and typically relate to Predetermined Story Structures or what Freedom of Choice players should be given regarding Character or Abstract Player Construct Development.

Narration Aspects

As mentioned above, Access Rewards in the form of Unlocking can be related to narration.


Access Rewards are a category of Rewards. They can ensure that Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses are provided by enforcing which order challenges and their associated closures are experienced and they can likewise ensure that Predetermined Story Structures are narrated in a predetermined order.

Since Access Rewards doesn't force players to engage in certain new gameplay possibilities but instead offers it, the pattern supports Freedom of Choice and increases Player Agency.


Can Instantiate

Freedom of Choice, Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses, Player Agency, Predetermined Story Structures, Rewards

Can Modulate

Impassible Terrain, Inaccessible Areas, Levels

Can Be Instantiated By

Conditional Passageways, Unlocking

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki. However, it is based upon the concept of "Access Rewards" discussed by Hallford and Hallford[1].


  1. Hallford & Hallford, 2001, Swords and Circuitry: A designer’s guide to computer role playing games. Roseville, CA: Prime Publishing, p. 158.