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Mechanical Rewards for Immersion

Required reading: Breakdown of RPG Players. There are a lot of theories about what people want out of gaming, and then there’s actual market research. I could rant about this more, but I already have.

Preamble and rant done. Okay.

It’s easy to reward Storytellers; you give them more narrative control. Primetime Adventures is a great example of this kind of mechanic; when someone does cool stuff, they get chips which can be cashed in for more control. Nice little positive feedback mechanism there. You narrate well, and in exchange you get more narrative control: you’re rewarded for doing well at something you like by getting more chances to do well.

Same goes for Power Gamers. Or for Gamists, if you will. You kill things, you get more powerful. That’s about as direct a link as you get.

I will ignore Thinkers for now. Maybe later.

How do you give that kind of reward to someone who likes immersive play? You’re looking for some kind of tangible way to make their desired style of play better, or easier, or some such. But there’s very little obstruction to immersive play to start with, given a sympathetic group.

I guess you could start out with a less immersive structure. Say… something where everyone shares a common pool of characters, and control of a specific character varies from scene to scene, like the NPCs in The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, but more so. And as you accomplish goals, you get more and more control of a specific character, presumably one of your choice.

I’m not sure what an immersive success looks like, given that it’s a completely subjective thing. It’s hard to tell whether or not someone’s being immersive unless you’re that person. You could be complex and hinge the mechanic on character choices that are clearly not in the character’s best interests, but sometimes immersive decisions are in the character’s best interests.

But maybe you don’t need immersive successes; maybe more traditional game successes could have that sort of reward? No reason why not.

Similarly, perhaps you could keep the one-player/one-character rule, but hold back control of the character from the player until they “earned” it. This might work well in conjunction with a dystopian world — something where the State owns your life until you’re rebel enough to take it back.

I kind of like that. I should look at Game Chef before it’s too late, which it almost is. But…

MEMORY
DRUG
PALACE
CURRENCY

Yeah, I could work with that.

Any other thoughts? If you’re immersive, what do you want in terms of mechanical rewards?

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