Big Dumb Objects

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Very large artificial objects in game worlds that provide evidence of powerful entities or groups of individuals.

Games often contain big mysterious objects on a different scale than the players in their game worlds. In science fiction literature, such structures are called Big Dumb Objects, and are used to create a sense of wonder or otherworldliness.

See also the Wikipedia entry[1] for the concept.


The majority of the gameplay in the Halo series takes place on the Ringworld-like[2] structures the series are named after.

The White Gold Tower in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion dominates the Imperial City of Cyrodiil, and can be seen from long distances when players travel in the wilderness of the game world.

Using the pattern

Introducing Big Dumb Objects to games consist mainly of deciding who created them, what they look like, and where in the Game Boards, Game Worlds, or Levels they are located. As an option, Big Dumb Objects can be so large that they are the actually Game Worlds - the ring structures in the Halo series are examples of this.

Diegetic Aspects

Given their size, and typically mysterious nature, Big Dumb Objects are Diegetically Outstanding Features. While they can be designed so they can be seen from any type of location, using them so they can visible from Transport Routes can make otherwise boring movement interesting.

Narrative Aspects

Given how obvious Big Dumb Objects are, they need to be part of Predetermined Story Structures in the form of Environmental Storytelling unless they are going to quite bluntly break Diegetic Consistency.


As mentioned above, Big Dumb Objects are examples of Diegetically Outstanding Features of Game Worlds. There presence is often motivated by how they help maintaining a Thematic Consistency. They also typically help players in performing Game World Navigation since they provide players with a Line of Sight to easily recognizable Landmarks. Since they are visible from long distances, they let players have the Anticipation of reaching them for a long time. When they cannot be reached, they instead give rise to perceivable Inaccessible Areas.

When the Big Dumb Objects are introduced to Game Worlds that otherwise are based on the real world, they do become instances of Alien Space Bats.


Can Instantiate

Alien Space Bats, Anticipation, Diegetically Outstanding Features, Environmental Storytelling, Inaccessible Areas, Landmarks, Line of Sight, Predetermined Story Structures, Thematic Consistency, Traverse

Can Modulate

Game Boards, Game World Navigation, Game Worlds, Levels, Transport Routes

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Wikipedia entry for Big Dumb Object.
  2. Wikipedia [ entry] for Ringworld.