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Gameplay where players take turns using an interface to interact with the game system.

A limitation with computer-based games is that unless they are networked there only exists one screen and perhaps only one set of input devices. In cases where players cannot share the screen - for example due to a need of secrecy - an alternative is to use Hotseating. This is simply that players have to take turns using the device or interface that allows them to affect the gameplay.

Wikipedia has an entry for the concept of Hotseating in games[1].


Although the term Hotseating arose with the introduction of turn-based video games, the concept of taking turns using the device (or more generally the interface) of a game can be traced back much further. Track and field events such as Long Jump and Shot Put requires players to take turns "interacting" with the gameplay area, as does games such as Bowling, Darts, and Eight-ball and sports such as Golf and Slalom Skiing.

Similarly, Pinball Games such as Star Trek: The Next Generation need to make use of Hotseating, and this has continued in computer-based versions such as Pinball Dreams. Their offspring, Arcade Games also provide support for Hotseating to let many players play against each other; examples of such games include Asteroids, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders.

More recent examples of games using Hotseating include Peggle and the Heroes of Might and Magic, WarioWare, and Worms series. Many other computer games, e.g. Bloodbowl, the Advance Wars series, the Civilization series support network gameplay as well as Hotseating.

The site GiantBomb has a long list of games supporting Hotseating[2].

Using the pattern

The main gameplay design issue with Hotseating is to determine when the game should make players hand over control to other players, i.e. how Turn Taking should be enforced. In Turn-Based Games this is trivial although Time Limits may be of more interest than usual since one can assume that there are players with Downtime waiting for their turn. In fact, one could argue that all most non-digital Turn-Based Games (e.g. Chess and Go) use Hotseating as only one player can interact with the game system at a time. This does however rarely mean that game designers of those games need to consider the design options described in this pattern. This since no effort from designers need to be exerted for it to exist and also since players can for efficiency reasons ignore this and simultaneously interact with the games if everybody agrees that this is okay. Other ways of determining the switch over between players include Death Consequences, or finishing Minigames or Levels.

That Hotseating requires a form of Turn Taking does not automatically make Real-Time Games impossible to combine with Hotseating. Pinball Games are for example games where players take turns playing but each player's turn contain real-time gameplay.

Split-Screen Views is an alternative to using Hotseating which allows for multiplayer Real-Time Games while only using one screen.

Interface Aspects

Hotseating is an Interface Pattern and all aspects of it concern this.


Given that Hotseating requires players to take turns playing, it can be seen as enforcing Turn Taking to make Multiplayer Games possible with only an interface for one player at a time. Since most Turn-Based Games already have Turn Taking, adding Hotseating to these can be seen as a modification to them. While adding Hotseating to a game can let more players play, it also makes them have Downtime while waiting - this may not be that much of a problem since they can be Spectators to each other.

Split-Screen Views can be said to be incompatible with Hotseating since they address the same design problem and it is superfluous to use both. Games with Hotseating can, unlike those with Split-Screen Views, make use of gameplay which requires Asymmetric Information as long as the players can be assumed to facilitate that they do not look at each other's game views.

As long as players are not supposed to view each others moves, Hotseating is likely to make those not currently playing into Backseat Gamers.


Can Instantiate

Backseat Gamers, Downtime, Spectators, Turn Taking

Can Modulate

Multiplayer Games, Turn-Based Games

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Death Consequences, Levels, Minigames, Time Limits

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Split-Screen Views


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Wikipedia entry for the Hotseating concept in gaming.
  2. Page on the GiantBomb site listing games supporting Hotseating.