"Experience points" — gathered during some games to gain upgrades.


Upgrade — Game mechanics of providing better possibilities to the player.

Mechanic — A subsystem of the game that regulates interaction with a game state.

RPG — Role-Playing Game, a game where the main focus is assuming the role of a fictional character.

XPs are a popular mechanic in RPGs (and computer versions of those, cRPGs). The name usually fits the narrative of the game where the player controls a character (or characters) that are developed during the course of the game. Most often there is a choice of upgrades for a player who is leveling up, so the mechanic influences the customization options.

You don't have to use stories to advantage from XP-like points in game design. In abstraction, they are just points that usually are:

  • means toward a further target,
  • impossible to be taken away from player,
  • gained with both successes and failures.

These are the qualities with quite a positive spin (not punishing) and might soften the competitive edge of the game. If you spread rewards along such a point track, you tap into a classic design solution of many game genres. However, it's worth remembering that players focused on rivalry may make it a race by speedrunning towards a set amount of XP.

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