Individual Rewards

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Rewards in a game which are only given to one player.

Games are typically set up so that there are rewards for certain actions or the completion of specific challenges. When these rewards are only given to one player - regardless if several players contributed - the rewards are Individual Rewards.


In single-player games the rewards are naturally Individual Rewards. For example, in Tetris it is the player who performs the actions and fills in the rows who gets the reward.

Many multiplayer games that pitch players against each other have Individual Rewards. For example, in Diplomacy the player that performs a successful attack conquers the area even though there might be several other players supporting this action with their own armies. Likewise, rewards associated with killing an enemy in League of Legends or death-match games of Quake are given to the player that dealt the final damage even if other players may have caused more total damage.

Using the pattern

Like other types of Rewards, designing Individual Rewards requires deciding on what specifically makes up the Rewards and when they should be given. Quite naturally, all Rewards in Single-Player Games are Individual Rewards but they can be used for various reasons in Multiplayer Games. First, they can increase Competition or Conflicts by giving clear indications between the difference of winning or losing specific gameplay activities. They can also decrease motivation or make more complex Collaborative Actions, Cooperation, and Mutual Goals.

For apparent reasons, the same Rewards cannot both be Individual Rewards and Shared Rewards. However, Altruistic Actions can make Shared Rewards into individual ones if players can renounce their right to parts of the Shared Rewards.


Rather obviously, Individual Rewards is a type of Reward. Individual Rewards can cause Social Dilemmas if a player can see that others, or a collective, could have greater benefit of the Rewards than the player could have. One such example is games in which there exists Teams but team members are in Races with each other over Individual Rewards, this not only causes Social Dilemmas but also Internal Rivalry.

When combined with Delayed Effects of Collaborative Actions, Individual Rewards give rise to Delayed Reciprocity.


Can Instantiate

Rewards, Social Dilemmas

with Collaborative Actions and Delayed Effects

Delayed Reciprocity

with Races and Teams

Internal Rivalry

Can Modulate

Collaborative Actions, Competition, Conflicts, Cooperation, Mutual Goals, Single-Player Games

Can Be Instantiated By

Altruistic Actions

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Shared Rewards


An updated version of the pattern Individual Rewards that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[1].


  1. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.