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Items, typically randomly generated, found in game worlds that function as rewards.

Loot is the reward players can gain from defeated enemies (or innocent victims) by taking their possessions. This may be weapons and armor they used to defend themselves with as well as tools or other material goods.


Loot first appeared in Tabletop Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons & Dragons although it was referred to as random treasure. Computer-based versions inherited this, both in single-player games such as Nethack, the Diablo series, and the Dragon Age series, and in multiplayer games such as Kingdoms and World of Warcraft. The Quake series and Borderlands are examples of how Loot are used in other types of games.

Drakborgen should an inverse example of the pattern; players try to get into a dragon's lair and get as much Loot as possible before it awakens.

Using the pattern

The two primary considerations for designing Loot is when players should receive them and what they should consist of. The most common source for Loot is Generic Adversaries or Enemies that drop them when they are killed, as for example found in Dungeons & Dragons, Borderlands and the Dragon Age series. In fact, that Inhabitants of Game Worlds provide Loot can be enough to make them into Enemies for players. Other sources include Non-Player Characters but any type of Inhabitants that can be the target for Eliminate goals can work.

Typical types of Loot include Resources, e.g. Ammunition, money, or energy, and Game Items, e.g Armor, Equipment, Tools, and Weapons. Loot can of course consist of many individual items, so these can be combined in one case of Loot. Randomness is a core part of Loot; if what Loot is acquired is completely known in advance the design instead becomes the more general Resources instead. This does not mean that Loot needs to be completely random among all possible game elements, the exact composition of any given Loot may be bounded to maintain Thematic Consistency and to maintain Red Queen Dilemmas. In games with Game Masters, they can tailor the Loot to having Balancing Effects or support Narration Structures, and the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons suggest that players should give their Game Masters wish lists for what magic items they would like to find as part of Loot. Player interest for Loot can be increased by introducing Sets, as done e.g. in the Diablo series.

For Multiplayer Games, Loot Rights may be used to mechanize how Loot will be distributed among players.

Diegetic Aspects

As mentioned earlier, Thematic Consistency may influence what type of Loot should be given so not to break come into direct confrontation with it. Besides regulating what type of game element make thematic sense to have been carried, another aspect is that Thematic Consistency can be broken if the Loot contains Tools or Weapons which could have helped their owners but were not used.


Loot is a type of Resources given as Rewards for completing Eliminate goals, and a typical example of Game Element Insertion. By providing this, they give a motivation for players to engage in Combat (besides any other that may already exist). Since letting Enemies, Inhabitants, or Non-Player Characters provide Loot makes them a possible way to gain Resources, this pairing makes the former into Resource Sources. When players know about the potential for Loot, and especially if they know something about the distribution between different types of Loot and Sets are part of a game's design, the pattern gives rise to Anticipation and Stimulated Planning on how to gain it. However, the search for particular Loot can become Excise when players have to wade through a lot unwanted Loot in order to have a chance of finding what they actually want.

In Multiplayer Games, the presence of Loot can give rise to several types of Social Interaction. The first is Negotiation about who should receive what part of the Loot and this can be done through Voting or game support for Loot Rights. A possible effect of this type of Negotiation is that some players willingly abstain from Loot in the belief that the other players' will honor this by Delayed Reciprocity. A second type of Social Interaction is Betrayal that easily emerges if any player engages in ninja looting, i.e. taking Loot without caring or discussing other players' wishes (this includes taking the Loot which one has not had part in generating). This can also be seen as the Social Interaction breaking down and being replaced by simple Races to get to the Loot first. Related to this is scavenging, collecting Loot that has been left by those who produced it due to being of little value to them.

In Multiplayer Games with Parties, the presence of Loot modulates the stability of Parties since players may fail to achieve Player-Decided Distributions of Rewards and Penalties.


Can Instantiate

Anticipation, Excise, Game Element Insertion, Races, Red Queen Dilemmas, Rewards, Stimulated Planning

with Enemies, Inhabitants, or Non-Player Characters

Resource Sources

with Inhabitants


with Multiplayer Games

Betrayal, Delayed Reciprocity, Negotiation, Social Interaction, Voting

with Multiplayer Games and Parties

Player-Decided Distributions

Can Modulate

Ammunition, Armor, Combat, Eliminate, Enemies, Equipment, Game Items, Game Masters, Generic Adversaries, Inhabitants, Non-Player Characters, Parties, Resources, Tools, Weapons

Can Be Instantiated By

Randomness, Resource Sources

Can Be Modulated By

Thematic Consistency, Loot Rights

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.