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Why does Mario Kart give better items to struggling players? Learn all about feedback loops

How some games use them well, and why others ignore them completely

Should you get better items for doing well in a game, or should focus more on helping struggling players with better items or boosts?

A feedback loop is a game system where the output is defined by the player and is then used as the input for another system, or even the latest loop of an existing system. Some systems look at positive play and give that player more chances for success. Other systems may give players who are struggling a boost to even out the odds. Properly managed feedback loops make for good games, while poor feedback loops can ruin an experience.

The video above goes deep into the feedback loops of a few different games — using struggling players getting better items in Mario Kart games and winning players getting better Killstreak Rewards in early Call of Duty games as examples of both negative and positive feedback loops — and looks at what makes an effective loop and what goes wrong with poorly designed loops.

It’s a fascinating topic, and if you’re like me you may turn off the video and then think of how your favorite games use, or ignore, feedback loops and how well they’re handled in those games. I’d argue that PUBG doesn’t really use any feedback loops, since the small number of random systems in the game can be handily overcome by players with even moderate skill; getting good items early will only get you so far.

If you have the time and a good thought in this area comes to you, I’d love to read it in the comments.

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