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Open locations in game worlds that naturally or by design become battlegrounds.

In games where combat occurs, the characteristics of gameplay locations can heavily influence how this can be done. Arenas are open areas which draws players into conflicts there, either because they contain check points or resources or because players have willingly placed themselves within them to challenge others.


While maybe not a big surprise given its name, Quake III Arena contains many maps with Arenas, e.g. arena gate, dredwerks, and the forgotten place. Many of central access routes and check points in Team Fortress 2 maps are also Arenas, e.g. the areas attackers need to take in Dustbowl. Other First-Person Shooters that have Arenas include the Halo and the Unreal Tournament series. Given the open maps in America's Army and the Battlefield series, the games do not have clear Arenas but combat in these games are often located to specific areas anyway.

The Elder Scrolls series have explicit Arenas where players can earn money by fighting monsters or non-player characters in duels. This is also possible in the thorn in Fallout: New Vegas.

Using the pattern

The prime requirement of creating Arenas is to make sure there are open but constrained areas in Game Boards, Game Worlds, or Levels. However, for Arenas to be perceivable as interesting structures in games, there needs to be other gameplay areas available as well (Chess and Go can be said to have Arenas that consist of the entire boards but trying to use the pattern in this way offers little in the way of design options or for understanding the resulting gameplay). Flanking Routes, Sniper Locations, and Strongholds are all potential Game World features that can be placed in conjunction with the Arenas to make them noticeable through the difference in gameplay they provide. Choke Points are quite often used to create the boundaries between Arenas and other parts of the Game Worlds. While not necessarily making them more noticeable, Check Points can be placed within Arenas to draw gameplay to these areas and this can be used to balance the deterrent effect of Sniper Locations.


Arenas focus where Combat takes place in Game Worlds or Levels. Controlling them can provide access to Check Points or other parts of the Game Worlds and for this reason they are often Strategic Locations and cause players to strive for Area Control of them. Given their openness, they make Herd more difficult since that which is herded has more possibilities of heading of in the wrong directions. In Multiplayer Games with Teams, they can let players coordinate attacks or defenses to achieve Team Combos.

Arenas provide natural starting points for considering adjacent Sniper Locations and can in this way help instantiate these.


Can Instantiate

Area Control, Sniper Locations, Strategic Locations

Can Modulate

Combat, Game Boards, Game Worlds, Herd, Levels, Multiplayer Games, Team Combos, Teams

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Check Points, Choke Points, Flanking Routes, Sniper Locations, Strongholds

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created for this wiki by Staffan Björk. However, it was first introduced using another template by Hullett and Whitehead[1], and a more detailed description in this template is available[2].


  1. Hullett, K. & Whitehead, J. (2010). Design Patterns in FPS Levels, paper presentation at Foundations of Digital Games 2010, June 19-21, Monterey, CA, USA.
  2. Arena pattern by Kenneth Hullett.


Kenneth Hullett, Jim Whitehead