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Opportunity Cost

The opportunity cost of an action is the maximum value you'd get by taking a different action. I.e. it is the value that will be missed out on by committing to this action rather than the next best alternative.

Opportunity Cost

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In game design, "opportunity cost" refers to the inherent trade-off involved in choosing one course of action over another. It is the value or benefits that a player foregoes by committing to a particular in-game decision rather than opting for the next best alternative. Game designers strategically incorporate opportunity costs to add depth, strategic complexity, and meaningful choices to player decision-making within the game.

An illustrative example can be found in a real-time strategy game where players allocate resources between military units and economic development. Suppose a player decides to invest heavily in expanding their military force to gain a tactical advantage. The opportunity cost in this scenario would be the potential economic growth and resource accumulation that the player sacrificed by not focusing on enhancing their economy.

Conversely, if the player opts for extensive economic development, the opportunity cost would be the military strength and strategic positioning they could have achieved with a more balanced approach. In this context, opportunity cost introduces a layer of strategic decision-making, compelling players to weigh the benefits of alternative actions and make choices that align with their overarching goals.

Integrating opportunity cost into game design enriches the player experience by introducing meaningful decisions, encouraging strategic thinking, and fostering a dynamic and engaging gameplay environment.

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