Rewarding Rewards

8 Minute Read


While studying gamification it dawned on me that games are basically systems meant to hack our reward systems. When I started my research it was hard for me to come up with rewarding rewards, because I was so used to just rewarding myself without a second thought. One big part of creating proper rewards is that you only get that reward for doing something beforehand. Time and time again do I catch myself looking for a reward of some type during an exhausting task. Gamifying a task and thinking about the reward before starting that task has helped me learn about my relationship with rewards and showed how often I break my own rules. This was actually a really scary experience, I noticed just how often I take the easy route out. 

Examples from games

World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is famous for requiring the players to grind out days to get some equipment. Below is just one example.

What are the requirements to get the Vulpera Heritage Armor?
One of the main requirements to obtain the Vulpera Heritage Armor transmog set is to raise your Vulpera race character to the maximum level. In this case, depending on when you have done it, from the Shadowlands launch event to the future it will be level 50, in contrast if you did it before the change of the leveling mechanics, it would be level 120.

Once you have obtained the maximum level of your character, a quest with the name of Heritage of the Vulpera will appear. To turn in this quest you will have to travel to the Vol’dun area. Once there, you will have to find the Vulpera Hideaway in the eastern area, in the center of the map. There, you must speak to Hagashi to receive the quest.

Find the complete article here.
“World of Warcraft – How to Get The Vulpera Heritage Armor.” Digital Masta, 16 July 2021,

How does it benifit my everyday life

Game developers often struggle with creating meaningful rewards, this comes from the fact that not everyone is motivated the same way. Some people will grind for hours just to get the satisfaction of completing all possible tasks, other times people will stop after minutes when they aren’t rewarded right away or along the way. When it comes to gamifying my life, the strategy has been; design the game you wish to play. That means finding and creating the rewards matching your goals. This has really proven to be quite the challenge for me. As a dopamine addict, I look for distractions every second I get, and unintentionally reward myself throughout the whole day without doing the work. For example when I look up a tutorial on YouTube, I end up watching entertaining videos afterwards for half an hour until I  remember my actual task. Gamification challenged me to come up with rewards beforehand and deciding the time and place for consuming these rewards. I really noticed that I need to stop rewarding myself without doing any work. This turns out to be quite the challenge. In the beginning it was really hard to hold out until I finished my task or tasks until I can pick one of my rewards. Believe me I still struggle with this. But it is soooo worth it to train this behavior. Every time I decide to push through with my task and then reward myself I feel that I am teaching myself to focus on delayed gratification allowing me to not only become more productive, but also more reflective on why I am doing what I am doing. I think this is especially useful for the young one who grew up with phones and people who always got what they wanted without working for it. 

Rethinking your relationship with rewards will allow you to reprogram yourself. Think about it, phones, supermarkets, streaming platforms, online shops have made it so easy to just reward yourself. How often do you tell yourself, oh ill first get that ice cream out of the freezer when I am done with my task. I sure as hell did not let my task stop me from gulping down a Ben &Jerries. Now surely most of you do not have a problem with instant gratification vs delayed gratification, but gamifying my tasks allowed me to readjust my behavior to be more appropriate. First reach that sub goal before breaking off to indulge. 

Another benefit from dissecting my rewards was the fact that some had proved to be not rewarding, like watching a show. This lead to the development of new rewards, like talking to an old friend or stretching while thinking about how grateful I am. 


How i can implement this gamification idea

Coming up with your own rewards is fun. Reflecting on what you like will give you some initial ideas on what could be a reward for you. The key is to create a list of rewards from small to big so that you can decide on the appropriate reward fitting to the size of the task or project that you finished.
Example: Writing for 25 min on a paper could be rewarded with a 5 min break. Finishing 5 sessions of 25 min writing could then be rewarded with an ice cream and finishing the whole paper could be rewarded with buying yourself a massage. 
You will need to experiment a little to find a nice balance between rewards and work but over time your judgement will get better. I for one sit at the computer a lot so most my rewards are related to moving or getting away from the computer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.