Game Instance Stories

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Stories that are based on gameplay events that took place in a specific game instance of a game.

The sequences of events, and the causes behind them, that occur every time a game is played create a story. In many cases these are not interesting to remember in detail or interesting to tell others, but in some cases the events or outcome for some reason is more interesting and players or game facilitators can want to have recordings of these Game Instance Stories.

Note: This pattern doesn't discuss the act of telling stories as part of gameplay, for that see Storytelling.


Some games have built-in support for players to record gameplay sequences, e.g. the Battlefield series, Clash of Clans, The Movies, and the Sims series, and can have support for players to upload them so others can play them. The stories may in some cases focus on showing players' performance in the games (e.g. the Battlefield series or Clash of Clans) but can in other cases be about the diegetic characters in the games (e.g. the Sims series).

Tabletop Roleplaying Games, e.g. Dungeons & Dragons and Fiasco, put players in the roles of diegetic characters and through this often create Game Instance Stories focused on these, but given the game format players need to take notes while playing in order to document the story as it unfolds. Live Action Roleplaying Games such as Mind's Eye Theatre are similar, but here the players' performance becomes more important. Some of these LARPs include diegetic characters which have in-game reasons to document the events taking place and can therefore record the raw material for Game Instance Stories during gameplay without disrupting scenes, see Monitor Celestra and College of Wizardry for two examples where this has been done.

Example of non-roleplaying games where players create Game Instance Stories based on their gameplay include grand strategy games such as the Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis series; here the stories take the form of "after-action reports" presented on forums dedicated to the games[1]). While these can be about winning strategies, other games such as Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress tend to be about interesting loses since this is "fun"[2].

Using the pattern

Any game instance can be the starting point for Game Instance Stories so designing for this pattern relates most to supporting players in wanting to create them, helping them remember or retell them, or increasing the likelihood that game instances will have noteworthy events in them. The last of these is most typically done through designing for Exceptional Events, and Spectacular Failure Enjoyment is one of the few patterns that specifically can support the creation of Game Instance Stories through this. Speedruns is another, since this encourages players to preserve successful game instances and also let other see these. Game Instance Stories can also emerge spontaneously from games as Extra-Game Actions, for example as Bragging about results. Replays can help players with the actual recording of Game Instance Stories while Extra-Game Broadcasting can help them transmit these stories either during gameplay or after it has been concluded.

Narration Aspects

Game Instance Stories is a Narration Pattern.


Game Instance Stories are Extra-Game Consequences and can act as foci in Multiplayer Games for feeling Togetherness between the players that were involved in them. When Game Instance Stories are spread to other players, this is an example of Trans-Game Information and can transfer Strategic Knowledge between them.

The creation of a Game Instance Story is the creation of a form of Memorabilia that is not actual artifacts from gameplay but rather a story based on the gameplay events that took place during a game instance.


Can Instantiate

Extra-Game Consequences, Memorabilia, Trans-Game Information

with Multiplayer Games


Can Modulate

Strategic Knowledge

Can Be Instantiated By

Bragging, Exceptional Events, Extra-Game Actions, Extra-Game Broadcasting, Replays, Spectacular Failure Enjoyment, Speedruns

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. After-Action Report page on Paradox Interactives website.
  2. Entry to "fun" on the Dwarf Fortress wiki.