Keys is a narrative-oriented gamification mechanic. Their function is to create a deeper emotional bond between the user and the game by unlocking new in-game areas.

Keys are relevant to the "Artefacts" category. Contrary to other artifacts, such as Virtual items and Virtual goods, Keys are not simply obtained but also unlock new regions of the game, where users can receive or purchase new items.

Keys belong to the Narrative layer in the model of gamification (see Model)

Strong effect

Keys are a unique type of virtual items, which reveals new possibilities of the game to users. Obtaining and further using Keys is a much more effective method of updating gameplay than an automatic expansion or updating of the game system, which does not involve users in any way.

Weak effect

The use of Keys should be noted by the user. When the Key is used, but nothing in the game has changed, the motivation to search for a new key may be gone.

Duration of the effect

A game where a found Key or several Keys are used only once is suitable for short-term objectives. When the gamification is long-term, you should not only set up a wide variety of keys or fragments of which keys can consist but also the variety of regions, changing and expanding the in-game possibilities.

What can I do with this?

The main goal of gamification is to further motivate the user to act in one way or another. Getting keys is one of the motivating gamification mechanics.
Search for
Keys are often hidden from users. Players must figure out for themselves how to gain them in the game based on the hints and indirect evidence.
Search for
Keys are often hidden from users. Players must figure out for themselves how to gain them in the game based on the hints and indirect evidence.
You can spark users' interest by implementing interactive keys. Like when they can be examined, rotated, or opened for more information, and last but not least, applied. These actions increase the value of the items and help to memorize significant information that can be transmitted through them.
Keys can be assembled piece by piece, restored in the process, or recharged. These actions are a part of customization, namely, the improvement of the item.
Users can choose desired keys or regions to unlock themselves when there is a variety of them.
When keys become valuable, then the higher the amount of them users have, the higher their in-game status is. The ability to accumulate keys is another motivating in-game mechanic.
Specific collections of thematically related keys 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 obtaining keys perceived as the means and not the goal for them to be seen as valuable. Keys are then collected not for the sake of assembling but rather to discover new in-game features.
Demonstration of obtained keys is a crucial mechanic that allows players to display their achievements for others to note.