Cosmetic Game Items

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Game Items that differ from other game items solely based on their cosmetic characteristics.

When players have the possibility to create characters in games, and the surroundings they inhabit, they often wish to beautify or distinguish these in various ways. While this may be achieved to a certain degree by choosing any game items to wear or furnish that looks different from others, Cosmetic Game Items provide an extra level of this by providing variety for the same type of functional game items, or by providing extra game items that exist only for this purpose.


The Sims series lets players personalize their sims' appearances to a high degree, including giving them clothing and jewelry. These do not provide any system benefits but provide players with a wide range of possibilities. While all furniture in the games do provide benefits or the possibilities of performing actions, tiles and wallpaper do not even if they vary in price depending on their appearance.

Entering body shops in the Grand Theft Auto series to change colors of one's car is not only done to escape the attention of the legal authorities; it can simple be because one wants a new color. Players that complete 100% of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are rewarded with a t-shirt saying "I JUST COMPLETED GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY AND ALL I GOT IS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT".

Shirts and tabards worn in World of Warcraft do not affect gameplay but only the appearance of the characters that wear them. Many of the game items in Entropia Universe likewise do not have to have any gameplay value but can still be sought after items in trading.

Players of FarmVille, Ravenwood Fair, and Zombie Lane can purchase both clothing and ornaments that have no direct gameplay effect, except possibly that the ornaments take up space. Several of the items created in Minecraft, e.g. paintings and books, have no practical value except enable players to create the appearance of various items found in the real world.

Using the pattern

Creating Cosmetic Game Items consist of choosing Game Items and then deciding on its visual appearance. Two main groups of Cosmetic Game Items are ornaments and those that are Equipment. Ornaments, found for example in FarmVille, Ravenwood Fair, or Minecraft, are Game Items that exist in Game Worlds for the only purpose of decoration, and maybe to be Obstacles. Those that are Equipment are used to change the appearance of Avatars.

The value of Cosmetic Game Items can be increased by making it a Limited Resource; the t-shirt Achievements for completing 100% of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or killing 10000 zombies in Zombie Lane are examples of this.

Diegetic Aspects

Cosmetic Game Items may seem to be a purely Diegetic Pattern but since these Game Items are chosen by players for their appearance they are likely to have a significance outside the game as well.


Cosmetic Game Items are a way to modulate Game Items with other purposes, and a way to instantiate those that only have cosmetic value. They can provide Creative Control and if they are a form of Limited Resource, e.g. by only being given as part of Achievements, also convey a Game-Based Social Statuses. Those that change the appearance of Avatars by being Equipment let players engage in Avatar Personalization. This can support Coordination in games where players have Functional Roles.

They can on their own merits lead to both in-game Trading and the Extra-Game Consequences of Game Element Trading in Multiplayer Games. In fact, since the cosmetic aspect of a Game Item does not directly affect gameplay, the pattern can be said to mainly be used to give Extra-Game Consequences.


Can Instantiate

Creative Control, Extra-Game Consequences, Obstacles

with Avatar Personalization and Functional Roles


with Avatars and Equipment

Avatar Personalization

with Limited Resources

Game-Based Social Statuses

with Multiplayer games

Game Element Trading, Trading

Can Modulate

Equipment, Game Items

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.