Goal Indicators

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Information presented to players about their current goals in a game.

Goals help direct players attention and efforts in a game, and accepting them is part of what brings meaning to playing games. However, some goals can be difficult to keep track of or it can be difficult to keep track of how close to reaching them one is. Goal Indicators help players with this through providing information about the goals they (or other players) have.


In the Grand Theft Auto series the subgoals in the game are indicated with floating arrows which point out where the goal objects are located. The nature of these goals are revealed to players in cutscenes before start they start.

Chess, Backgammon and other classical Board Games state the goals of players directly in the rules (check-mate the opponent's king, move all the pieces off the board). The position of the opponent's king in Chess and the location of the home base in Backgammon are Goal Indicators that guide players' actions during gameplay.

Using the pattern

Goal Indicators can be created using Check Points, Closure Points, and Progress Indicators. Cutscenes and Narration Structures in general can also be used. They can be modulated by using Direct Information or not.

Since Goal Indicators provide information to players they work against them having Uncertainty of Information. It also works against Player-Defined Goals in the sense that it draws attention to goal created by game designers.

Interface Aspects

Goal Indicators is an Interface Pattern.

Narration Aspects

As stated above, Goal Indicators can be expressed through Closure Points and Narration Structures.


Using Goal Indicators typically changes how Public Information is displayed to players, often affecting Time Pressure and Time Limits whenever they are part of a goal definition. They often help provide Game State Overviews.


Can Instantiate

Game State Overviews

Can Modulate

Public Information, Time Pressure, Time Limits

Can Be Instantiated By

Check Points, Closure Points, Cutscenes, Narration Structures, Progress Indicators

Can Be Modulated By

Direct Information

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Player-Defined Goals, Uncertainty of Information


An updated version of the pattern Goal Indicators 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.