My little girl was ‘Star of the Week’ at her school last week for ‘great number work.’ She was ecstatic to receive the recognition. And it’s a big encouragement to her to keep on trying. I’m very proud of her.
Coincidentally but far more trivially, I went up a level in Modern Warfare 2. It made me think about how we reward learning compared to the achievements celebrated in gaming.
I am not very good at Call of Duty, indeed my role largely seems to be cannon fodder for American teenagers, but I am persistent despite my thousands of deaths. According the stats, I’ve been playing for more than 4 days over the last year. That’s a lot of time but it’s less than a tenth of that spent by some young people I know. One of the elements that keeps us coming back is the quality of the game’s encouragement – it rewards every achievement and all the effort.
If you’re not familiar with Call of Duty, here are the potential rewards:
In single player mode, you progress through the game unlocking harder levels, viewing cut scenes and revealing new elements of the storyline. There are 18 ‘scenes’ split over 3 acts. Each has a progressive but different set of challenges, characters, settings and equipment. It’s a level of richness that proves compelling in its own right. But it’s not all.
In multiplayer mode you also receive a public accolade at the end of each game and XP and bonus points. There are public leaderboards to show your global ranking and private ones to compare your scores to that of your friends.
You earn points by using each weapon. For example, assault rifles have the following challenges:
|Challenge||How To Complete||Unlocks||XP Reward|
|Marksman I||10 Kills||Grenade Launcher||250|
|Marksman II||25 Kills||Red Dot Sight||1000|
|Marksman III||75 Kills||Silencer||2000|
|Marksman IV||150 Kills||ACOG Scope||5000|
|Marksman V||300 Kills||FMJ||10000|
|Marksman VI||500 Kills||Experience Points||10000|
|Marksman VII||750 Kills||Experience Points||10000|
|Marksman VIII||1000 Kills||Experience Points||10000|
|Expert I||5 Headshots||Woodland Camouflage||500|
|Expert II||15 Headshots||Digital Camouflage||1000|
|Expert III||30 Headshots||Urban Camouflage||2500|
|Expert IV||75 Headshots||Blue Tiger Camouflage||5000|
|Expert V||150 Headshots||Red Tiger Camouflage||10000|
|Expert VI||250 Headshots||Fall Camouflage||10000|
|Expert VII||350 Headshots||-||10000|
|Expert VIII||500 Headshots||-||10000|
|Shotgun||20 Kills w/ Grenade Launcher||Shotgun Attachment||750|
|Holographic Sight||60 Kills w/ Red Dot Sight||Holographic Sight||1000|
|Heartbeat Sensor||15 Kills w/ Silencer||Heartbeat Sensor||750|
|Thermal Scope||20 Kills w/ ACOG Scope||Thermal Scope||750|
|Extended Mags||40 Bullet Penetration Kills w/ FMJ||Extended Mags||1000|
|Mastery||Unlock all attachments||Title (Gold w/ Iron Cross)||10,000|
|Veteran I||500 Kills||Title (Plain Grey)||10,000|
|Veteran II||1000 Kills||Emblem (Silver)||10,000|
|Veteran III||2500 Kills||Title (Silver Skulls)||10,000|
|Master I||250 Headshots||Title (Grey w/ Head)||10,000|
|Master II||500 Headshots||Emblem (Gold)||10,000|
|Master III||1000 Headshots||Title (Gold Skulls)||10,000|
Pretty impressive list, isn’t it? Notice how achievements are rewarded with points, emblems, titles and new content unlocks. It is persuasive feedback to players.
Now consider this. There are
- 28 challenges for each primary weapon
- 24 primary weapons
- 22 challenges for each secondary weapon
- 20 secondary weapons
Mastering the game’s arsenal offers more than a 1000 separate challenges.
And there’s more. There are:
- 96 perk challenges
- 25 equipment challenges
- 22 basic training challenges (unlocked at level 6)
- 27 operations challenges (unlocked at level 10)
- 57 killstreaks challenges(unlocked at level 16)
- 32 precision challenges(unlocked at level 26)
- 14 finishing moves challenges (unlocked at level 35)
- 19 humiliation challenges (unlocked at level 41)
- 15 payback challenges (unlocked at level 47)
- 19 elite challenges (unlocked at level 53)
- 16 intimidation challenges (unlocked at level 61)
- 57 prestige challenges (unlocked at level 70)
- 25 hidden challenges
That’s nearly 1500 different challenges in total, each rewarded with new content, status and points. There are 70 levels, 297 different emblems for players and 570 callsigns.
This post isn’t a celebration of Call of Duty or the violent type of gameplay associated with it but it is an example of how games do everything they can to engage users. It’s not just the sheer quantity of awards, it is the variety and value of them that we need to acknowledge. Games reward effort and achievement in the following ways:
- token and badges
- progressive difficulty
- public accolade
- new content
It makes the tick after a right answer look a little paltry doesn’t it?