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The goal of trying to hinder other players ability to gain information.

Having as much information as possible about a game state in a game is usually advantageous. Conceal is the goal of trying to prevent other players from gaining information about part of the game state. While Conceal goals are often preventing or hindering other players from finding out the location of the specific game elements or the players themselves the aim of Conceal goals may also be to keep certain information associated with a game element from other players.


The children's game Hide-and-Seek is the archetypical example of using Conceal where all children except one try to Conceal their locations. Another archetypical example is Battleships where players try to place their ships in ways to make it difficult for their opponents to guess where the ships are. An important aspect of the Stratego is to keep the identity of one's pieces hiding from one's opponent.

The game Zendo allows the master to secretly make a rule for how differently colored pyramids should be arranged to have "Buddha nature", and the goal of the students is to try and extrapolate the rule from experiments.

Using the pattern

Designing Conceal goals require two parts: providing players with the possibility of hiding and giving them reasons to hide. What is hidden is typically Avatars, Characters, Game Items, Units, or the players themselves.

Hiding Places provides possibilities to hide, so this pattern is a basic component that can be used to create Conceal goals. More generic, the presence of Asymmetric Information or Imperfect Information in a game can allow Conceal goals as Battleships and Stratego show. Red Herrings can help players with Conceal goals if the players can create these Red Herrings as decoys for what they are trying to hide. Creative Control can more generally support Conceal goals through allow players to create additional Hiding Places or Red Herrings. It can also allow players to make Hiding Places better. From an interface perspective, Auxiliary Game Screens can allow players to perform the actual hiding in ways that are less prone to being seen by other players.

While Conceal goals can simply be given as Enforced Goals to players, many combinations of patterns naturally make players take on implicit Conceal Goals. Enemies, especially with Reconnaissance goals, is one example. Others are when the game elements, be they Avatars, Characters, or Units, have Achilles' Heels or Vulnerabilities that others can exploit. The latter of these may make players try to hide some game elements while showing (or sacrificing) others. Players with Survive goals are likely to take on Conceal goals if possible since this offers one solution to completing the Survive goals (so Conceal goals modify the Survive goals).

Conceal goal can be pointless unless somebody is looking for what is hidden; that is, Conceal goals may only be meaningful if there are Preventing Goals, e.g. Gain Information or Gain Ownership, that are stopped by the Conceal goal being successful.


Conceal is a Continuous Goal which when combined with Traverse provides Stealth goals. When done as (allowed) Extra-Game Actions they support Sanctioned Cheating. To others, Conceal goals can be Unknown Goals.


Can Instantiate

Continuous Goals, Unknown Goals

with Extra-Game Actions

Sanctioned Cheating

with Traverse


Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Asymmetric Information, Auxiliary Game Screens, Enemies, Gain Information, Gain Ownership, Hiding Places, Imperfect Information, Preventing Goals

Avatars, Characters, or Units together with Vulnerabilities

Avatars, Characters, or Units together with Achilles' Heels

Can Be Modulated By

Creative Control, Red Herrings

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Conceal that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[1].


  1. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.