Equipment Slots

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Slots used to indicate which game items players wish to use.

Games that let players find armor, weapons, or other types of equipment often let them find many different kinds of each to let players have the choice of selecting wish they prefer. Having Equipment Slots lets players show this choice simply by placing the selected items in slots. Depending on if they are combined with a general inventory or not, these slots can represent everything one can carry.


Equipment Slots are common in Computer-based Roleplaying Games. Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura and the first games in the Fallout series make use of them, as does Torchlight, World of Warcraft, the Diablo series, the Ultima series, the Baldur's Gate series, and the Dragon Age series. In these games, players have general inventories and can from these select the specific items they wish to use at any particular moment. Minecraft uses the same design structures as the above roleplaying games but in a sandbox game and has game time progress while players are accessing the inventory and Equipment Slots.

Some First-Person Shooters also make use of Equipment Slots but then without having inventories. This is used, e.g. in Far Cry series and the Left 4 Dead series, to force players to commit to using a particular set of weapons and changes can only be done when new weapons are found or by backtracking to where old weapons were left. Borderlands is an example of an FPS that retains the combination of Equipment Slots and inventories that roleplaying games use.

Using the pattern

There are two main uses for Equipment Slots and this influences the specific options available when inserting them into game designs. The first is as an addition to Inventories to allow players to select what Equipment from what they are carrying they wish to use (note that there are other ways of doing this: in later installments of the Fallout series one marks items in a list and in NetHack, Rogue, and the Zork series one commands such as "wear", "wield" and "equip"). The second use of Equipment Slots is instead of Inventories, or, more correctly, as a way to create Inventories with strict limitations on what can be carried. In this case, players that find a new piece of Equipment but have no free slots for it need to either leave it or drop some other piece of Equipment of the same type.

Equipment Slots used together with Inventories is a way of modifying how players can manipulate the performance of Characters, and this can apply not only to Player Characters but also to Companions. The stand alone use of Equipment Slots is most typically used with Avatars (they are a way of reducing the complexity of handling Equipment so that one can focus upon one mode of interaction).

Equipment Slots are specialized. This means that each Equipment Slot is dedicated to a particular type of Armor, Tools, Weapons, or some other category of Equipment (if they are not they would instead be a form of generic Inventory and might not be able to tell the system how the Equipment should be used). This also means that it is rather common to have one Equipment Slot for each type of Equipment. There are some exceptions to this. First, it is more or less an established tradition in Roleplaying Games that one can wear one magical ring on each hand so the games typically have two slots for rings. Second, since one can hold things in both hands there is typically one Equipment Slot for each hand, although Equipment that requires two hands (e.g. rifles or two-handed swords) occupies both of these when used. Third, when Equipment Slots are used instead of Inventories, players can be given some Freedom of Choice by providing two or three slots for the most commonly used type of Equipment (typically the primary type of Weapon in the game).

Interface Aspects

When used together with Inventories, Equipment Slots are typically part of the same Secondary Interface Screens as the Inventories. When used instead of Inventories they are typically sufficiently limited in functionality that they can be fitted into HUD Interfaces.


Equipment Slots mainly offers ways to make interfaces clearer when used together with Inventories. When used instead of Inventories they have more impact on gameplay: players need to do Trade-Offs between the different pros and cons of what can be placed in each slot since the slots represent a Limited Set of Actions, and picking a certain combination can be akin to selecting Competence Areas.


Can Instantiate

Competence Areas, Inventories, Limited Set of Actions, Trade-Offs

Can Modulate

Armor, Avatars, Characters, Equipment, Inventories, Tools, Weapons

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

HUD Interfaces, Secondary Interface Screens

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.