Gameplay Design Patterns

How can we understand the possibilities of game design? Having a language to talk about existing or potential features of gameplay is a fundamental requirement for this. The gameplay design patterns collection developed at RISE Interactive (formerly called Interactive Institute) have since 2003 identified over 700 such features and the relations between these.

Each gameplay feature is described as a design pattern, a way of describing repeatable design solutions in an accessible way. The design patterns idea was originally developed within architecture by Christopher Alexander and his collaborators as a way of supporting future inhabitants of buildings to take part in design processes. This idea was then popularized within software engineering before being applied to gameplay design.

The work with gameplay design patterns within RISE Interactive is a research program that explores games in all their forms. Besides developing patterns that cover the most common features of games, research projects conducted at RISE Interactive have studied specific patterns found in mobile games and pervasive games, as well as those related to the design of character in games and the dialogue one can have with them. Currently, the whole collection is being updated on a publically accessible wiki and patterns related to public games are being studied within the Experimedia project.


The development of the gameplay design pattern collection has spanned many individual research projects and researchers and researcher groups have contributed. Primary among these are Jussi Holopainen and the Nokia Research Centre (FI) as co-initiators of the program. Other substantial contributions comes from Sus Lundgren at Chalmers University of Technology (SE), Petri Lankoski's work while at the Hypermedia Lab (FI) and Aalto University (FI), and Jenny Brusk's work at Gotland University (SE).

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