The Psychological Trick That Can Make Rewards Backfire

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Goals and rewards can be a great way to motivate players to learn, try out features, and play longer - but in certain circumstances, they can actually backfire on you. To find out more, let's jump into the psychology of motivation.

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Sources

[1] Undermining children's intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


[2] Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic rewards in Klei’s latest game: Don’t Starve | The Penny Arcade Report


[3] Outer Wilds: a game of curiosity-driven space exploration | USC Digital Library


[4] The Machinations Behind Infinifactory | Game Wisdom


[5] Mini Metro: When Less is More | GDC Vault (Free Access)


[6] Effect of Expected Rewards on Children's Creativity | Creativity Research Journal


[7] How Incentives Hinder Innovation | Behavioral Scientist


[8] Why do goal-based incentives cause cheating? | Williams College (PDF)


[9] What to do? | Steam Forums


[10] A Nintendo Argument Against Achievements | Kotaku


Find out more

Throwing Out the Dopamine Shots: Reward Psychology Without the Neurotrash | GDC Vault (Free Access)


Rewards in Video Games | GDC Vault (Free Access)


The Cake Is Not a Lie: How to Design Effective Achievements | Gamasutra


The Psychology of Games | Steamworks Development


Achievements Considered Harmful? | Chris Hecker


Games shown in this episode (in order of appearance)

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (Naughty Dog, 2016)
A Plague Tale: Innocence (Asobo Studio, 2019)
Hearthstone (Blizzard Entertainment, 2014)
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (Mediatonic, 2020)
Rage 2 (Avalanche Studios / id Software, 2019)
Diablo III (Blizzard Entertainment, 2012)
Marvel's Avengers (Crystal Dynamics, 2020)
Don't Starve (Klei Entertainment, 2013)
Mini Metro (Dinosaur Polo Club, 2015)
Subnautica (Unknown Worlds Entertainment, 2018)
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Nicalis / Edmund McMillen, 2014)
Outer Wilds (Mobius Digital, 2019)
Exapunks (Zactronics, 2018)
Shenzen I/O (Zactronics, 2016)
Opus Magnum (Zachtronics, 2017)
Spacechem (Zachtronics, 2011)
Infinifactory (Zachtronics, 2015)
Tormentor X Punisher (E-Studio, 2017)
Lonely Mountains: Downhill (Megagon Industries, 2019)
Tetris 99 (Arika, 2019)
Minecraft (Mojang, 2011)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, 2017)
Lumines Remastered (Q Entertainment / Reonsair, 2018)
Planet Zoo (Frontier Developments, 2019)
God of War (Santa Monica Studio, 2018)
Destiny (Bungie, 2014)
Hitman 2 (IO Interactive, 2018)
Her Story (Sam Barlow, 2015)
Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment, 2016)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games, 2017)
Devil May Cry 5 (Capcom, 2019)
Hitman (IO Interactive, 2016)
Forza Horizon 4 (Playground Games, 2018)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Infinity Ward, 2019)
Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo, 2017)

Music used in this episode

Music provided by Music Vine -
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