Typology of rewards

In the realm of game design, rewards play a pivotal role in motivating players, shaping their experiences, and maintaining engagement. However, not all rewards are created equal. It's crucial for game designers to select the right type of reward to align with the game's intention and keep players immersed. Let's explore the various categories of rewards in gaming.

Types of Rewards


  • Nature: Social recognition, honorary titles.
  • Purpose: Comparing oneself with others or celebrating personal achievements.
  • Utility: Minimal in-game utility, primarily serves as a symbol of accomplishment.

Example: Cosmetic items in an RPG.

Diving Deeper: Glory rewards are bestowed upon players for achievements that don't directly impact gameplay. They include accomplishments like performing a specific action multiple times or completing side quests. These rewards, often purely cosmetic, allow players to show off and bask in the social aspects of gaming. The challenge for game designers is to strike a balance so that glory rewards don't become excessive or trivial, preserving their significance.


  • Nature: Resources required for maintenance and preservation.
  • Purpose: Helps players maintain their character's status and retain what they've gained in the game.
  • Utility: Essential for survival and continuation within the game world.

Example: Ammunition packs in Half-Life.

Diving Deeper: Sustenance rewards serve a practical purpose by enabling players to maintain their current status and possessions. These may include health packs to restore a character's health or shields that prevent immediate death. Anything that keeps players in the game or in the midst of the action falls into this category. Additionally, strategic save points, allowing players to maintain their progress, are crucial for enhancing the gaming experience.


  • Nature: Rewards that unlock new locations or resources.
  • Purpose: Grants access to previously unavailable areas or assets.
  • Utility: Typically one-time use with no further value after unlocking.

Example: Keys in Zelda dungeon levels.

Diving Deeper: Access rewards empower players to explore new territories or gain access to resources that were previously off-limits. These rewards typically have three defining characteristics: they provide access to new locations or resources, are generally single-use, and have no further utility after they've been employed. Items like secret passwords, keys, or similar objects often serve as embodiments of access rewards.


  • Nature: Rewards that grant new abilities or powers.
  • Purpose: Empowers players to perform actions they couldn't before.
  • Utility: Enhances gameplay by expanding a player's repertoire of strategies and options.

Example: Obtaining the Hookshot in "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time."

Diving Deeper: Facility rewards provide players with newfound abilities or powers, allowing them to perform actions that were previously impossible. These may include power-ups that grant players the ability to dodge sword strikes or see in the dark. When managed effectively, facility rewards should increase the range of strategies and options available to the player, enriching the gaming experience.

Overlapping Rewards

It's important to note that a reward can belong to multiple categories. For instance, a magnificent suit of armor in a game like World of Warcraft combines elements of both Facility (enhanced protection) and Glory (visual appeal).

In conclusion, understanding the typology of rewards is a fundamental aspect of game design. By choosing the right type of reward, game designers can create a balanced and engaging gaming experience that aligns with the game's goals and keeps players captivated throughout their journey.