Shared Rewards

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Forced sharing of rewards between players.

One part of the gameplay in most games is receiving rewards. When a reward needs to be split between more than one player, that reward becomes a Shared Reward.


Winning is a Shared Reward in Co-Op Games such as Dead of Winter, the Left 4 Dead series, and Space Alert. Groups of player characters in Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS often together defeat enemies, and then together need to share the rewards given for doing so. Shared Rewards can be said to be given to groups exploring instances in World of Warcraft since they have to divide loot they receive, and only those in an instance can receive parts.

In Carcassonne one possible way to gain points is to finish building a town but all players that have the same claim to the town receive the same amount of points.

Using the pattern

If not already preset through the use of Teams, etc., Shared Rewards can be designed around Collaborative Actions or the effects that apply to Factions or Social Organizations. They can also be designed to be a consequence of Tied Results. Negotiation and Player-Decided Distributions can be used to let players have a say in how the Rewards are distributed, and making the Rewards into Shared Resources can postpone such discussions until latter.

Several patterns work against players having Shared Rewards. Conflicts and Excluding Goals among those with the Shared Rewards may interfere with their Cooperation or wish to share Rewards with the others. Individual Rewards are of course incompatible with Shared Rewards concerning the same Reward but the availability of Individual Rewards can also lessen the wish to strive for Shared Rewards. Some Altruistic Actions may somewhat surprisingly work against Shared Rewards since they can allow for players for forsake their part of the Rewards. Tiebreakers can be used to modify games that otherwise would allow Shared Rewards for Tied Results.

Shared Rewards work against the presence of Delayed Reciprocity since it either makes Rewards be shared at once or have distributions set out in advance.


Having Shared Rewards can form Mutual Goals between players, and is likely to cause Cooperation between them. It can also be the basis for Uncommitted Alliances or Teams. Shared Rewards can make both Alliances and Competition stronger, in the latter case by setting up the "problem" of having to share Rewards as a threat. They modify how players can claim Ownership of the Rewards and can become focus for possible Social Interaction between them.

As Rewards given to several different players, Shared Rewards can serve to create a sense of Togetherness between them. This can also have Balancing Effects if the distribution by the system or players give the best Rewards to the weakest players. However, if the Rewards are not easy to split evenly, they may cause Social Dilemmas and some players may need to take on Social Roles handling this. This become most apparent when Uncommitted Alliances are given Shared Rewards due to Tied Results as the Rewards then become Player-Decided Distributions.


Can Instantiate

Balancing Effects, Rewards, Mutual Goals, Social Dilemmas, Social Roles, Teams, Togetherness, Uncommitted Alliances

with Mutual Goals


with Tied Results and Uncommitted Alliances

Player-Decided Distributions

Can Modulate

Alliances, Competition, Ownership, Social Interaction, Social Organizations,

Can Be Instantiated By

Collaborative Actions, Factions, Tied Results

Can Be Modulated By

Negotiation, Player-Decided Distributions, Shared Resources

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Altruistic Actions, Conflicts, Delayed Reciprocity, Excluding Goals, Individual Rewards, Tiebreakers


An updated version of the pattern Shared 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.