The exchange of information by word-of-mouth between diegetic characters.
Like in the real world, the people presenting in game worlds can engage in the very human activity of sharing Gossip.
- 1 Examples
- 2 Using the pattern
- 3 Consequences
- 4 Relations
- 5 History
- 6 References
Standing within hearing distance of non-player characters in Oblivion in the The Elder Scrolls series can let players overhear them talking to each other, and these discussions can reveal interesting areas to explore. Being close, but not too close, to Grace and Trip in the interactive drama Façade can likewise provide information, but in this case concerning their relational problems.
Most, but not all, of the Gossip Stones found in The Legend of Zelda series provide players with information about the game state or hints on how to complete quests. Many of the characters encountered in the game, e.g. the friends, relatives, and neighbors on Outset Island of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, can also provide some more or less useful information.
Many Live Action Roleplaying Games, e.g. 1942 – Noen å stole på and Dragonbane, provide good settings for Gossip to be spread, both by having uncertain information and by providing ample time to discuss this information.
Using the pattern
A requirement for Gossip is that Imperfect Information exists in the Game World, even if it only does so on a diegetic level. This may be that players, or their Characters, do not have information about the state of facts or that Non-Player Characters lack this. Note that Gossip can be true, false, or contain partial truths - the important thing is that players (or at least their Characters) do not always have an immediate and fully reliable way of judging the trustworthiness of the statement.
One aspect of designing Gossip is deciding if it should occur between Non-Player Characters, between Player Characters, or between one of each. The first can provide opportunities of Eavesdropping (as can the other two when there is at least three or two players respectively). The second lets players engage in both Roleplaying and Storytelling, and to have some Creative Control in how these are performed. The third can be considered a service, and may be provided by Non-Player Characters which in fact are Self-Service Kiosks.
The subjects mentioned in Gossip also needs consideration. Although Gossip commonly is about Characters, when it is provided by the game this can be used to inform about possible Quests and Diegetically Outstanding Features. Gossip about other players can easily stem from Negotiation (or about their Characters if part of Roleplaying), either as ways of trying to share information or on purpose spread mis-information. As such it can be vital to maintain Dynamic Alliances and believes in Delayed Reciprocity, but can also be used to commit Betrayal of trusts.
While Gossip can always provide Information Passing, this may break Thematic Consistency if not delivered as part of Context Dependent Dialogues. Even so, this can, much like other types of Dialogues, break if Canned Text Responses are used.
Gossip can be used as a way of informing players of how they or other players have acted in the Game World. As such, this can make Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences both in ways positive and negative for the players.
Gossip is one of the possible effects of Dialogues, and thereby cause Information Passing between characters. Since it is based in the diegesis of a game, Gossip can help support Narrative Engrossment.
with Player Characters
Can Be Instantiated By
Can Be Modulated By
Possible Closure Effects
Potentially Conflicting With
A revised version of a pattern with the same name introduced in Lankoski 2007.
- Lankoski, P. & Björk, S. (2007). Gameplay Design Patterns for Social Networks and Conflicts. Paper Presentation at Computer Game Design and Technology Workshop, John Moores University, Liverpool.