I'm looking for a word or phrase that expresses the idea that something can be done well at the beginner-level, but can also be extremely rewarding when someone reaches an expert level.

The concept being that someone's efforts can be rewarding and fruitful even if they have just begun to learn this task, but also has a great deal of expertise that experts can appreciate.

Two examples that I have are rather specific, but I'll include them to try to help establish context:

In the video game Team Fortress 2, the Soldier class is very easy to use as a beginner, because explosive splash damage and spam are easy to use without much skill. But a more experienced player can use the Soldier's ability to rocket-jump to excel beyond almost any other class in the game, with incredibly high mobility and damage output compared to any other class. A beginner can contribute, but an expert can become extremely powerful.

Likewise, the Cleric class in DnD 3.5 has the incredibly useful party ability to heal other players, making them invaluable even for very new players. But they also have the ability to become one of the singluar most powerful classes in the game in the hands of an expert.

That is the type of quality I'm trying to find a word or phrase for - something that is easy to learn, but rewarding to master.

  • 1
    Isn't it the game itself? It is a journey from beginners up to the expert level and each phase is rewarding; rewards usually get bigger also in later phases. If it is not a game, it is gamification. Even StackExchange can be an example :)
    – ermanen
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 16:46
  • @ermanen Not all games work that way though. And this isn't about a game, but about a specific role within that game. As a counter-example, playing Spy or Sniper is very difficult and unrewarding when you're just beginning, but can be...very difficult and unrewarding. But a Soldier is useful to the team when you start, and incredibly complex and enjoyable as an expert.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 16:47
  • 3
    I agree that it might not apply to all the existing games but I think it might be one of the qualities of games in general (At first glance, I might have tried to answer the title). If you want to name the process or the quality, I almost feel like calling it game-like learning. There is also Bushnell's law (or Nolan's Law) related: "All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. They should reward the first quarter and the hundredth."
    – ermanen
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 17:47
  • @ermanen That IS the exact quality I'm trying to find a good word or phrase for, but I'm not sure if one exists.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 17:58
  • 1

3 Answers 3


I would refer to that quality, skill, or game class as progressively rewarding:


1 Happening or developing gradually or in stages:

At the beginning, simple skill generate enough simple benefits to enjoy the rudimentary challenges of the game. By developing intuitive proficiency, the player augments the rewards and excels in the advanced challenges of the game.


  • 1
    Yes. You might also add "with low offset".
    – anemone
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 20:54

Possibly you could parallel the concept of a "learning curve" by describing these things as having a long "rewards curve".

  • I do like that idea. But do you have a reference for the term "rewards curve" as part of what a Learning Curve is?
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 18:38
  • lmgtfy.com/?q=%22reward+curve%22 :) Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 18:39
  • 1
    In the time it took you to write that into LMGTFY, you could've added it to your own answer and greatly improved it in the process. Even then, the results are less than legible. ;) Maybe try looking for a good reference and citing it before assuming one is very easy to find.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 18:43

Easy to learn = High learability of a human-computer interface's basic, primary functions


Challenge to Master (at expert level) = Low Usability of human-computer interface's more advanced, obtuse functions (or) = Low learability of the more advanced, obscured functions of a human-computer interface
(or) = something that requires extensive practice, over a long period of time, thus also requiring patience and persistence. [And if persistent, one will reap the intrinsic reward of a sense of personal accomplishment - the accomplishment of gaining significant control over manipulating a tool. As a bonus, possessing an expertise in something allows one to provide a skill gap that other's may lack, allowing for the ability to experience the EXTRINSIC reward of helping others.]

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