Anonymous Actions

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Actions that cannot be unconditionally linked to a specific player.

Performing actions in games are done to further players' plans and ambitions. However, it may be counterproductive for others to know about these actions sometimes either because they reveal the plans or that it makes other players make use of more information that is intended. For these cases this can be resolved by making the actions into Anonymous Actions.


Playing noun cards needs to be Anonymous Actions in Apples to Apples in order to make the decision of the current 'judge' objective regarding which fit the active adjective best. In contrast, the ESP Game relies on Anonymous Actions to ensure that the suggested words by players are descriptive of an image rather than just any jointly selected word.

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game makes use of Anonymous Actions to allow infiltrating cylons to sabotage the humans efforts to flee the pursuing cylon fleet. While most times the players are supposed to collaborate in roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons, sometimes players may wish perform actions without the other knowing and this can quite easily be achieved through passing notes to the game masters.

Using the pattern

A requirement for Anonymous Actions is that there is an Uncertainty of Information about which player made an action. A common way of supporting this to have several players performing Collaborative Actions through placing Cards or Chips since then they may unsure about who contributed with which game elements, an example of this can be found in the skill resolution system of Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game. This can be also be achieved through adding Random actions provided by the game system (Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game does this also through the destiny deck).

There are two main reasons for including Anonymous Actions in games. One is making Player-Decided Results be based solely on an action (e.g. which card on played in Apples to Apples) rather than the players' relative positions. Another is to allow Betrayals to go unnoticed or possibly repeated, and can also allow Traitors to not only have to work through Stealth. Whenever the actions originated from specific game elements, Anonymous Actions can be seen as a way of modifying Abilities.

Interface Aspects

While Cards and Chips show how Anonymous Actions can supporting in Self-Facilitated Games, the use of Dedicated Game Facilitators such as Game Masters can allow for complex and improvised actions to be Anonymous Actions through providing interfaces specifically for this purpose.


Anonymous Actions provides a basis for having Player Anonymity in games. Since it is more difficult for players to associate actions with players and thereby their strategies in the game, Anonymous Actions makes games have less Predictable Consequences. When the construction of Anonymous Actions do not even let players know which other players are playing this support Actor Detachment.

In games with Unmediated Social Interaction, players can reveal themselves as the source of Anonymous Actions unless the take care with what they say and how the show their emotions to events taking place. This may make the pattern difficult to combine with Unmediated Social Interaction but if Penalties are linked to revealing oneself (as for examples is the case for Traitors in games such as Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game or Shadows over Camelot) this makes Roleplaying a prerequisite for Gameplay Mastery.


Can Instantiate

Actor Detachment, Player Anonymity

with Unmediated Social Interaction and Penalties


with Roleplaying

Gameplay Mastery

Can Modulate

Abilities, Betrayal, Player-Decided Results, Traitors

Can Be Instantiated By

Game Masters, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Randomness, Uncertainty of Information

Collaborative Actions together with Cards or Chips

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Predictable Consequences, Unmediated Social Interaction


New pattern created for this wiki by Staffan Björk.




Jonas Linderoth