Do not link things to this page other than games unless they tie in closely with experience points. A Tonberry or Metal Slime would be OK since they give more experience points than normal enemies; a character like Cloud is not OK since he's just a party member like any other party member in the game and it's a given that he will gain experience.
Derived from early tabletop RPGs (specifically Dungeons and Dragons), Experience Points (sometimes referred to as XP or EXP) were originally one of the defining elements of early, class-based role-playing games. As genres have expanded and the lines between them have blurred, many have incorporated Experience Points in one form or another. Experience Points have also been incorporated into many games that are not class-based. An influential example of this can be found in Fallout's SPECIAL system, which blends the skills and perks advancement of tabletop games such as GURPs with experience points and levels.
The Final Fantasy games have also been influential in a move away from class-based design, while maintaining experience points and levels. While early Final Fantasy games used classes, specifically the "job system", later games use modified class systems such as the Sphere Grid (Final Fantasy X) or License Board (Final Fantasy XII) to determine character abilities while using levels gained by acquiring experience points to determine others, especially the advancement of primary attributes, such as Strength and Speed as well as secondary attributes, such as Hit Points and Magic Points.
In many RPGs, the players will start out fairly weak and with a very limited move set, but as the player wanders the world killing monsters and performing side quests for other characters, they gain experience points. After a set number of Experience Points have been collected the character will " Level Up", giving him a boost in his stats. The number of Experience Points received are usually based on the difficulty of the enemy; the stronger bosses giving many points while weaker enemies give very few. As with any generalism, there are a number of exceptions including the Cactuars from Final Fantasy VIII, which were very weak but also gave a lot of experience points.
Experience Points in MMO's
Gaining experience points is something almost all MMO's have in common. Many different MMO's have implemented different experience points systems to improve the grinding process. World of Warcraft implemented the rest system and is widely considered to be the most user friendly. The longer a character stays either offline, in an inn or capital city they will gain more rested experience points. When you are rested, it doubles the experience points earned from killing NPC's. Tabula Rasa offered bonus experience points for killing NPC's within a small time frame. This well-rested mechanic also appears in non-MMO games, such as the Fallout series.
Many players have been known to use a technique known as Power-Leveling to quickly gain Experience Points and gain levels. The practice has taken some criticism and been associated with cheating or defeating the game designers' plan for the game. Traditionally, Power-Leveling is performed by a more powerful player taking a weaker player into battle. The higher level character defeats the enemy, but the points are still distributed among the two. There have been many attempts to stop the abuse of Power-Leveling, but they are often seen as unfair and not fun. Power-Leveling has become so prolific that there are even companies that will level a character for a player, for a fee. Power-Leveling is most prevalent in MMORPG titles given that it takes more than one player to facilitate this process. Games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest have had numerous instances of players offering Power-Leveling services either for in-game currency or for real money. Power-Leveling could be considered as a morally/ethically gray concept. There are some that would argue friends helping friends get through their lower levels faster for the sake of guild advancement is perfectly acceptable, but there is also the argument that power-leveling creates players who do not know how to play their classes properly.
The concept of baiting is primarily seen in games where you have a team of characters but only one is active at any one time, such as in the Pokémon games. Baiting involves having a stronger character weakening a strong opponent only to have the weaker character finish it off. Adaptations to the process involve having the weak character start the battle but then switching them out for the stronger one. When the opponent is defeated, the weaker character still gets experience for participating in the battle.
Achievement and Trophy Systems
The Xbox 360 introduced Achievement Points, a new kind of experience point system. Achievement Points are acquired by players who play through games and complete certain tasks or challenges which the developer believes deserve points, such as beating the game or using a specific method of getting through a level. These points are collected by the player to create a gamerscore, showing off the player's experience in gaming and allows other players to determine the level of skill this player has. Taking a user's gamerscore at face value cannot always dictate the player's experience and skill, as some games have very easy achievements, with which a user can boost their score, frequently with very little effort.
The PS3 released a similar system which allows players to gain trophies when they complete certain tasks. These trophies can displayed in Home, the PS3's virtual life software. The player's trophies also accumulate and if a certain amount are obtained the player will "level-up". This level can also determine the player's skill and frequency of gaming.