Social Rewards

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Rewards provided by a game that can help players' social regard rather than giving direct in-game benefits.

Games pose challenges to players, and typically give rewards to players for overcoming these. However, not all these rewards provide benefits to players in the game (e.g. through improving a player's future possibilities of succeeding with actions or by unlocking new content). One other type of reward that players can get from games is Social Rewards, rewards that work toward to making players be appreciated in some form by other players.

Note: Hallford and Hallford discuss a similar design characteristics in games under the name "Glory Rewards"[1].


Arcade Games such as Asteroids and Pac-Man introduced the concept of high score lists where players could be the results of the best players. The allowed players the Social Rewards of being local champion of the types of games (physical Pinball games had the same feature).

Online services for games, e.g. X-Box live, PlayStation Network, and Steam not only provide players services for buying and playing games but also the possibility of keeping track of specific challenges or game modes players have beat. These acknowledgments of gaming — called achievements, badges, medals, etc. — allow players a form of Social Reward in that they are not important for the game itself but can be important in that they let players show their game proficiency and players can compete against each other who gets these acknowledgments first or who has the most.

In games where winning is not emphasized, e.g. Tabletop Roleplaying Games and LARPs, the main goal can be to perform interesting portrayals of characters or create interesting narrative situations. None of these directly need to provide benefits in the games (this is especially the case when one causes problems for one's own character) but can make the game more interesting for everyone and the appreciation of this can be a Social Reward.

Using the pattern

Social Rewards are Rewards that have meaning to players because they let them have social regard among other players. Games that let players show Gameplay Mastery can have this, and many patterns support this, e.g. Achievements, Game-Based Social Statuses, Global High Score Lists, and even High Score Lists in general.

Not all types of Social Rewards depend on skilled or even successful gameplay. One way to achieve Social Rewards is to be a meaningful part of a Team. This makes possibilities of Team Strategy Identification, Team Accomplishments, and Togetherness in a game allow players to get Social Rewards from their contribution without it actually resulting in gameplay successes. Another is the display of Social Skills, e.g. through Enactment, where performances can lead to Social Rewards in the form of attention or appreciation regardless of how well these performances promote player goals. Within Live-Action Roleplaying Games, Playing to Lose is often partly done for this reason (the other reason typically being to create an interesting story).

Memorabilia can serve as a tangible artifact that promotes Social Rewards.

Being a type of Reward that doesn't directly affect gameplay, Social Rewards can be given for activities such as Grinding which are intended to not significantly affect balance between players.


Social Rewards is a Reward which is a type of Extra-Game Consequence. It can lead to Bragging.


Can Instantiate

Bragging, Extra-Game Consequences, Grinding, Rewards

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Achievements, Enactment, Game-Based Social Statuses, Gameplay Mastery, Global High Score Lists, High Score Lists, Memorabilia, Playing to Lose, Social Skills, Team Accomplishments, Team Strategy Identification, Teams, Togetherness

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


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