A gameplay loop is an essential, fundamental part of every game. They are used to establish player behaviors and structure the narrative and the play session.
It’s the beating heart of what makes games fun. There are several different versions of gameplay loops. We will take a look at the most fundamental loop with three core elements:
- Objective - a clear goal of what should the player accomplish. Like: defeat a monster.
- Challenges - an interaction with game mechanics, environment and various obstacles to accomplish the objective requirements. For example, you have to use spells and techniques to kill the monster, block its attacks.
- Rewards - a reward for the player’s hard work, comes in the form of money, experience points, reputation, etc.
As a game designer, you have the power to define the key elements of the gameplay loop and also the length of it. And keep in mind once the player receives the reward, the next objective must be provided. Otherwise, you’ll lose the player from “the hook”.
Fun fact: Mobile games with short gameplay loop games are called “toilet games”.
Real-life Gameplay loop examples
- Objective: Run 8km
- Challenge: Go out and run those 8km
- Reward: Calories burned, endorphins.
- 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.