Types of Reward 4: Discovery and the beauty of “What If…?”
What Is It? Anyone who is into positive psychology, personal development, self help or psychology (the subjects of the Real Life section of this site) will have a great understanding of the role and importance of broadening one’s mind. Essentially, this is where you open your mind to new possibilities, you “open up” and you allow yourself to take in a wider perspective of life. The positive sensation here is one of possibility.
Oftentimes in life we can feel as though we are trapped in our own minds and our own lives. We feel stuck. “Broadening” is the ability to expand your mental space, essentially meaning you feel less trapped. And this, believe it or not, is one of the key rewards games give us. By making us feel that an unexplored room, an empty field or an abandoned wreck may contain a valuable item, games make our minds think “What if” and in doing so, expand our perspective.
How Is It Achieved? This should be one of the harder rewards to achieve because it is necessary to lead a gamer to a supposedly “hidden” object whilst making the gamer believe they are discovering the item for themselves.
Thankfully, most gamers have been playing for years and years and, over the development of the industry, have learnt that seemingly empty game areas may contain valuable items. All that is left for the developer to do now is to make sure that the gamer knows that the game they are playing is one where they will be rewarded for exploration, which is something the majority of gamers can usually sense pretty quickly.
Types of Discovery Rewards: Anything that is hidden and has a positive effect on the gamer.
It’s Function As A Reward: The discovery reward acts almost as a combination between empowerment rewards and social rewards. Essentially, gamers want to know that the often lengthy amount of time they spend finding items will yield them an item worth having. This could be a super powerful gun that makes them feel very much empowered, or it could simply be a rare item that most gamers don’t know about and that they can use to show off. What’s vital is that sense of “What if?” What if there’s a hidden gun here? What if none of my friends know about this? What if I unlock an unknown achievement? What if, what if, what if? It is the beauty of “What if” that keeps the gamer exploring.