What's a gameplay loop?

A gameplay loop is a crucial component of every game. It helps establish player actions and shapes the story and overall gameplay experience.
What's a gameplay loop?

A gameplay loop is a core of what makes games enjoyable. There are different types of gameplay loops, but the most basic one consists of three key elements:

  1. Objective - a clear goal that the player needs to accomplish, such as defeating a monster
  2. Challenges - the interactions with game mechanics, the environment, and obstacles that the player must overcome in order to achieve the objective. For example, you have to use spells and techniques to kill the monster, and block its attacks.
  3. Rewards - the benefits that the player receives for their efforts, such as money, experience points, or reputation.

As a game designer, you have the power to define these elements and the length of the gameplay loop. It’s important to remember that once the player receives a reward, a new objective should be provided to keep the player engaged. Otherwise, you’ll lose the player from “the hook”.

Fun fact: Mobile games with short gameplay loops are often referred to as “toilet games.”

Real-life Gameplay loop examples


  • Objective: Run 8km
  • Challenge: Go out and run those 8km
  • Reward: Calories burned, endorphins.

Development sprints

  • Objective: Successfully resolve 10 tickets in two weeks
  • Challenge: Develop features, hot-fix various bugs, etc.
  • Reward: Additional bonuses and perks, like, movie tickets, pizza.

There are many ways how to boost your team spirit with simple gameplay loops implemented in companies’ workflow, but this is another topic.