Game Development Reference
If the game's rewards alignment was worse—say, if the system reward-
ed players only for jumping through special floating hoops—the reward
system would antagonize the creative play. Players would ignore every
game system except the ones that helped them get through the hoops. The
elegant trick system might remain, but the life would be sucked out of it
by a poorly aligned extrinsic reward system.
But wait a moment—tricking isn't the only thing players might natu-
rally want to do in Skate 3 . What if they want to race? What if they want
to see how badly they can injure their skater, or perfect a single, specific
trick sequence? A player just exploring the game might naturally decide
he wanted to do any of these things, but the scoring system alone can't
To handle these nonstandard goals, Skate 3 includes a number of spe-
cial modes that set up unusual win conditions. Some are races. In others,
you're tasked with copying another skater's exact trick sequence. And in
Hall of Meat challenges, you attempt to break as many of your bones as
possible in one horrific accident. These modes achieve rewards alignment
around these nonstandard goals.
There are games that don't even try to achieve rewards alignment. Their
entire design is based around generating powerful, continuous motiva-
tion, no matter the cost to the core experience. While this can keep players
playing, it can also lead to player's remorse .
PLAYER'S REMORSE appears after a player spends time on a game that
motivates him but does not fulfill him.
When I first started making games, I never thought that I would have
to face ethical questions in my work. But then, I didn't know the power of
The prehistoric human brain has no evolved defense against carefully
tuned reinforcement schedules. Our dopamine triggers evolved to handle
hunting and foraging, not slot machines. So dopamine-driving games can
push people to do things that seem irrational and self-destructive.
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