During the discussion on Rewards in the previous article, we touched on the idea of Metagame Rewards. To put it simply, metagame rewards are a form of reward that encourages the players to keep coming back. These aren’t things “in-game” that boost character stats, or represent new gear, these are the rewards that make the player himself lean back with a grin, look the GM in the eye and say, “Great Game!”
So, what constitutes Metagame Rewards? For this, I’ll paraphrase from Amagi Games’ excellent article “What-I-Like Glossary” which goes on to discuss the different types of fun that motivate players:
- AGON is the thrill of winning against another person at the table.
- ALEA is the gambler’s thrill, the fun of taking a big risk, the tension that comes with it, win or lose.
- CATHARSIS is a feeling of release that follows an intense or overwhelming experience.
- CLOSURE is the feeling that there’s nothing more that needs to be done, and the thing is finished.
- EXPRESSION is the simple desire to be creative at the table.
- FIERO is the feeling of triumph, or winning, of defeating a challenge, or overcoming adversity.
- HUMOR is fairly self explanatory, and is essentially gaming for laughs.
- KAIROSIS is the feeling that of fulfilment that comes from change and development
- KENOSIS is the feeling of being deeply engaged in their character or in the fiction at a whole.
- KINESIS is tactile fun, fiddling with maps, handouts, dice, etc.
- LUDUS is fun from working the system and optimizing performance within the rules.
- NACHES is the enjoyment of seeing someone that you have taught, or are responsible for, go on to do well with that knowledge.
- PAIDA fun is free-wheeling player fun, where rules are a convenience.
- SCHADENFREUDE is delight in the suffering of another – the thrill of seeing the villain get what they deserve is a pretty common expression.
- SOCIABILITY is the fun of being able to spend time with other people and enjoy their company.
- VENTING is, simply, the desire to work out player frustrations or other emotions, using the game as a means.
Each of these is a specific form of fun and enjoyment that acts as a reward. The key point of being a GM in this case is to make sure that you know your players and know what they enjoy the most. By being able to match the type of fun the player wants to what’s happening in the game, you heighten their enjoyment of the experience.
The key to making this happen is to go back to Rule Number One. Talk to your players and find out what their expectations are with the game and what they want out of it. I’ve seen some GMs who never seem to realize this, and end up with games that don’t take off as well simply because they’re giving the wrong kind of metagame reward to the players. For example, players who enjoy PAIDA and HUMOR, would be better served with a lighthearted game where the GM doesn’t slap them down with “No, you can’t do that because it’s not in the rules.