Individual <a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-rewards.html>Rewards</a>

Individual Rewards

The reward, or parts of the reward, for reaching a goal or performing an action in the game is given to only one of the players.

Games, even those with team play, where individual players can fulfill goals usually have Individual Rewards. This motivates all players that have a possibility of completing the goals to try and complete them. However, Individual Rewards can improve the chances of whole teams to succeed with and can therefore be seen as positive effects even by those who do not directly receive the rewards.

Example: in single-player games the rewards are naturally Individual Rewards. In Tetris it is the player who performs the actions and fills in the rows who gets the reward.

Example: in Diplomacy the player who is performing the attack command will be able to conquer the area even though there might be several other players supporting this action with their own armies.

Example: the items given as a reward for completing a goal in a roleplaying game are usually distributed amongst the players as Individual Rewards.

Using the pattern

Individual Rewards is best suited for games where the Ownership of the goals of the players is clear. In these cases the players feel that they are rewarded for their own performance in the game and this can increase the sense of achievement. Individual Rewards have many of the same requirements and possibilities as general Rewards do but tend to focus upon New Abilities, Improved Abilities, and receiving personal Resources and Tools. This as these types of Rewards can be linked to Units or Avatars that are directly under one player's control. In games without Team Play, raising a player's Score or letting a player win the game has to be Individual Rewards.

Individual Rewards can be used together with Shared Rewards when there is a possibility for separating the Reward into categories where some can be Shared Rewards and some Individual Rewards. This is the usual case in fantasy roleplaying games where fungibles, such as the experience points and the gold, are shared between the players but the rare magical items are given to individual players. It is, of course, also possible to create systems where all the Rewards from even Mutual Goals are Individual Rewards in order to heighten the Delayed Reciprocity effect or create Conflict situations between players performing Cooperation or Collaborative Actions.


Individual Rewards, just like Rewards in general, increase player commitment to the game, especially in the case where the player performing the actions for reaching the goal is rewarded. If an Individual Reward goes to a player, who has not participated in the actions, is it usually regarded as unfair towards the players who did participate. However, if the players have agreed on this kind of Rewards beforehand, this use of Individual Rewards, together with Cooperation and Mutual Goals, gives rise to Delayed Reciprocity, where the player receiving the Reward usually feels compelled to pay the favor back. There is, however, often a possibility for Betrayal in these situations which poses potential Social Dilemmas for the players.

Individual Rewards are natural in cases of Competition and Conflict between the players and in many cases getting the Individual Reward from the other players is the main motivation for playing the game in first place. This is especially true for games of direct Competition with Symmetric Goals such as Chess and Soccer, but the same applies to Races without Interferable Goals. The Reward itself in these cases might be just to win the other players and it can be perceived as a raise in Social Status. Individual Rewards can in games with Team Play give rise to Races between players within the same team, and may pose Social Dilemmas to players when the Race has Interferable Goals or players can lessen the chance of other team members to succeed by not helping them.

Social Dilemmas can be constructed by having Individual Rewards for individual use of Shared Resources. In these cases players must make Tradeoffs between the individual benefits they can receive and the benefits of helping the group. Player must also judge the potential risks and disadvantages in antagonizing the other players who have access to the Resources.

Single-Player Games naturally only have Individual Rewards.


Instantiates: Social Dilemmas, Race, Rewards, Betrayal, Delayed Reciprocity

Modulates: Social Statuses, Conflict, Collaborative Actions, Competition, Cooperation, Team Play, Mutual Goals

Instantiated by: Single-Player Games

Modulated by: Shared Rewards

Potentially conflicting with: Shared Rewards