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When a Hero picks up gems or coins or other "collectibles" that add to his wealth in a game, what are those things (gems and coins etc) commonly called and how are they generally referred to in game design terminology?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Alexandre Vaillancourt, MAnd, Philipp, Lars Viklund, congusbongus Feb 18 at 3:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Do you have a separate "backpack" for gems and coins, or do they just go with usable items? – acbabis Feb 17 at 20:06
Is "loot" too general for you? – Ethan The Brave Feb 17 at 20:13
@EthanTheBrave this has been suggested as an answer already. – Alexandre Vaillancourt Feb 17 at 20:17
As an aside, a lot of collectibles in games can often fall under the definition of a MacGuffin – JonBee Feb 17 at 21:44
@JonBee this is way and by far the best answer! Nothing else comes close. – Confused Feb 18 at 8:26
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You should distinguish from a heirarchical set of terms.

Loot is the overarching term from anything you would retrieve from a body or a reward for doing a exploration task (like the chest at the bottom of a dungeon). Sometimes quest rewards fall into this definition but are usually different.

A sub-category of loot is Currency. Currency is anything that you can spend to acquire something else, but are generally not useful on their own. One classic currency are Justice Points in WoW, which evolved out of Badge of Justice, looted from dead bosses in heroic dungeons. Some currencies are tradable, others are not.

A sub-category of currency is Money. Money is, specifically, something you can use to trade with other players or the game to acquire goods. Not all currencies are money, as illustrated above. If it isn't tradable to other players, it probably isn't money. Inherently, money exists as a medium of exchange in a market, allowing market prices to dominate. Thus, if the prices are set, even if it's called gold, it's more likely to be considered generic "currency" than it is money.

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I would typically refer to them, as you said, as collectibles. You could also refer to them as tokens, but that may be confused with additional tries.

Collectibles might also refer to other things as well, such as items in an rpg or even overarching level goals. To refer specifically to the type of collectible that's picked up in a level and usually gives something special at 100, you could try referring to them as coins, typically from Mario, but that could get people confused if they're not actually coins. Another term is goodies, but that could be considered too vague, as well.

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Using google search results does not mean one term is preferred over another. If I search for "game design money" it will be absolute winner with 458 000 000 results. I suggest to remove that part. – Kromster Feb 17 at 9:09
Tried to copy the technique they use from English stack exchange for validation, but didn't seem to work out. Removed. – ChrisUC Feb 17 at 9:13
Tokens” could also be confused with the game programming technique of “tokenization”, which is the process of turning game entities into an inactive data-only token when they're far enough away from the player to be irrelevant. And the process of detokenizing back into updated/rendered 3D entities, of course. – Slipp D. Thompson Feb 17 at 10:07
Collectibles is maybe not the correct terms. It usually refers to unique items the player can collect, not things they collect in bulk. I think I read some articles in game journalism refer to these as "goodies". – Philipp Feb 17 at 13:46

I would refer to them as currency. You've said yourself it represents wealth. If these are not actual "collectibles" in the sense of a trophy/etc unique item, and especially if they can be bartered for items and the like within the game, currency makes the most sense to me. It works for gems, it works for coins, it works for seashells, it works for bottlecaps... all of the above can be used as currency in the appropriate games :)

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+1 by my own terminology, a currency is a discrete type of (often finite) value that accumulates in an account, and is transferred between accounts by way of a transaction. The three together comprise a basic economy system. Meanwhile, collectibles tend to be individually unique - in my book, they don't stack because they have unique properties. When "currency items" in the game world are picked up, they trigger a transaction depositing a certain value into the player's account for that currency. When a collectible is picked up, it moves to a collection inventory of sorts – bosco Feb 17 at 22:46

Game design is not a rigorous field when it comes to terminology. What we use in the field is more of an ad hoc vernacular than anything else. Often existing English terms capture our use cases just fine, so that's all we use.

This is one of those cases. You'll find as many ways to describe these collectible items as you could probably think of. "Collectibles," "pick-ups," "rewards," "chits," "tokens," "currency," et cetera. While the terms may not vary much within one game, they will across many. The initial term will likely be coined based on the specifics of whatever the designer or designers want to convey about the purpose of the item in the game.

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"Programming is not a rigorous field." FTFY ;) – Confused Feb 17 at 15:35
The reason I used "Lexicon" in the question was to avoid this becoming "opinion based". – Confused Feb 18 at 8:25
@Confused The word "lexicon" does not alter the opinion-based (or not) nature of the question itself at all; your question title uses it as if it were a categorical tag, which we don't do here (it's redundant with the actual tags). We also prefer questions to be in the form of a question, not a title, in general. – Josh Petrie Feb 18 at 14:56
No, but it makes it very clear I'm searching for a definitive Lexiconical type word, not an opinion. The answer I've marked as correct lays out the right type of answer I wanted, and is not opinion. It's a perfect hierarchical breakdown of the terminology that's not only best, but right and true within the best possible use of economic and english terminology when applied to game design. It is possible to have a non opinion based answer to this question and it was asked in a manner that'd find that answer, I thought. But that's just my opinion. – Confused Feb 18 at 16:12
@Confused That's exactly what the 'terminology' tag is for; but the question is closed now regardless. – Josh Petrie Feb 18 at 16:17

Hmm, I would personally say loot

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It depends on what you plan on doing with them.

  • If you simply collect them and store them as an 'award' or, in your situation, you stack them and it represents your wealth, you can use the term collectible.
  • If the player will consume them to buy other stuff, i.e. if it used as currency, you should probably refer to it as, well, currency.

However I don't think there is a common way to name them across all game companies. You should use common sense and what works best for you and your team internally.

What's important though is that what the player sees is consistent across the board: don't use 'collectible' on a specific pane, and 'currency' on another, this would create confusion (you'll probably even end up giving it a specific name like 'Coin' and use only that term everywhere).

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These are often referred to as resources, if they are something that can be used/spent to accomplish something, and they aren't just a single currency.

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