Vampire Survivors: how developers used gambling psychology to create a Bafta-winning game

Vampire Survivors: how developers used gambling psychology to create a Bafta-winning game on Blog

In the realm of indie gaming, innovation and creativity often converge to produce exceptional experiences that captivate players. "Vampire Survivors," a Bafta-winning game, stands as a remarkable example of how game developers ingeniously incorporate elements of gambling psychology to craft a captivating and addictive gameplay loop. By infusing elements of randomness, risk, and reward, this indie gem has set a new standard for engaging player experiences.

The Power of Randomness

Randomness is a potent tool that game developers can leverage to keep players engaged and intrigued. "Vampire Survivors" masterfully employs the element of chance to create a sense of unpredictability. From the distribution of loot to the appearance of enemies, the game's dynamic ecosystem ensures that players never know exactly what to expect. This constant sense of uncertainty feeds into the player's desire to explore and engage, mirroring the excitement of a casino environment.

The Thrill of Risk and Reward

The concept of risk and reward is a fundamental aspect of both gambling and gaming. "Vampire Survivors" expertly plays with this psychological phenomenon to keep players invested in their progression. By presenting players with decisions that have potentially high payoffs but come with inherent risks, the game taps into the innate thrill of seeking big rewards. The anticipation of whether the risk will pay off or lead to failure creates a rollercoaster of emotions that players find irresistible.

The Addiction of a Compelling Loop

At the core of "Vampire Survivors" lies a compelling gameplay loop that mirrors the mechanics of gambling. The game introduces players to a cycle of tasks, challenges, and rewards that keep them engaged and yearning for more. As players progress, the difficulty increases, prompting them to invest more time and effort to achieve the desired outcomes. This sense of progression and the allure of potential rewards create an addictive loop that keeps players coming back for more.

Ethical Considerations

While the incorporation of gambling psychology elements enhances player engagement, it also raises ethical questions. The use of chance-based rewards and risk-reward mechanics can potentially lead to problematic behaviors, especially when players are enticed to spend more money or time in pursuit of rewards. Balancing the appeal of these mechanics with responsible design practices is crucial to ensure that players' well-being is prioritized.


"Vampire Survivors" serves as a shining example of how indie game developers can harness elements of gambling psychology to create an immersive and addictive gameplay experience. By introducing elements of randomness, risk, and reward, the game crafts a dynamic environment that keeps players invested in their journey. However, it's important to approach such mechanics responsibly, maintaining player well-being while delivering an engaging experience. As the gaming industry continues to evolve, the intersection of game design and psychological principles offers exciting possibilities for crafting unforgettable player experiences.

Alina Burns
Wordlover, sketch artist and aesthetics admirer.

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