Virtual items are the narrative-oriented gamification mechanics. Their function is to create a deeper emotional bond between the user and the game. That is due to the user's desire to receive virtual items.
Virtual items belong to the "Artefacts" category. Contrary to other artifacts, such as Virtual goods and Keys, virtual items highlight the user's in-game success.
Virtual items belong to the Narrative Layer in the model of gamification (see Model).
Virtual items are a visual representation of achievements. They help to become immersed in the game and increase the user's level of emotional engagement.
The main risk in the design of virtual items is that they can mismatch the chosen style of gameplay.
Duration of the effect
A game with a small set of virtual items is suitable for short-term objectives. When the gamification is long-term, you should set up a wide variety of virtual items, as well as a system of their updating and rotation.
What can I do with this?
The main goal of gamification is to motivate the user to act in one way or another. Receiving items is one of the simplest yet efficient motivating mechanics.
Some virtual items may be hidden from users; the players must figure out for themselves how to gain them in the game.
You can spark users' interest by implementing interactive virtual items. Like when those items can be examined, rotated, or opened for more information. Interactive virtual items increase the time spent by users in the system and help to memorize significant information that can be transmitted through such interactive means.
Некоторые виртуальные предметы могут собираться по частям, другие — улучшаться в процессе. Все это относится к кастомизации, то есть модификации и украшению виртуальных предметов.
Users can choose themselves which virtual item will be displayed on their page or profile picture.
When virtual items become valuable, then the higher the amount of them users have, the higher their in-game status. The ability to accumulate virtual items is another motivating mechanic for completing actions for which the game was designed.
Specific collections of themed virtual items may be a part of more complex games. These collections simplify users' guidance, allowing them to instantly figure out what is expected of them in a current position while also further motivating them to act as instructed by the game.
It’s better to make the process of receiving virtual items perceived as the means and not the goal for them to stay valuable. Then virtual items will be accumulated not for the sake of their amount or assembling a collection but rather to discover new in-game features.
Demonstration of virtual items is a crucial mechanic that allows players to display their achievements for others to note.