Mediated Gameplay

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

Gameplay where the players interaction with the game state and/or each other is done through a system.

Games are typically designed with the intention of making player experience the gameplay as something they can directly affect. Even so, not all games allow players to directly manipulate or perceive their game state, constructing presentations for players to view and interpreting players' activities to determine with gameplay actions will take place. Games that do this have Mediated Gameplay.


The game states of Board Games, Card Games, and Pinball Games are typically maintained by the physical game elements used in them. In contrast, computer games such as Asteroids and Pac-Man have Mediated Gameplay in that they an internal game state in the system and construct presentations for players to know what this game state is and what the effects of their actions have been. Making computerized version of Board Games, Card Games, and Pinball Games introduce the same separation between game state, presentation, and possibilities to affect the game state.

Day of the Tentacle and the Elder Scrolls series shows examples of when Mediated Gameplay is used to hide information from the players so they do not have complete access to the entire game state. BatMUD and the Zork series do the same, but also show how text can be used instead of graphics to mediate gameplay.

Mediation of gameplay can also be done by humans. In Tabletop Roleplaying Games such as Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons & Dragons, and Paranoia human game masters maintain (and create) the current game state and the presentation of the game worlds to the players is done through them or under their guidance. I Love Bees, Momentum, and The Beast show examples of where combinations of computer systems and game masters mediate the gameplay for players.

Using the pattern

As the name suggests, Mediated Gameplay need someone or something that mediates the gameplay for the players. While players may make use of existing systems to mediate gameplay, e.g. using email or the postal system to play Chess, this pattern assumes that the mediating system is part of the design of the game. This means that Dedicated Game Facilitators in the form of Game Servers are a prerequisite for the pattern. Meta Servers can be used to enable selection and movement between these Game Servers, adding a layer of mediation. A specific form of Game Servers are those that provide Massively Single-Player Online Games; here the Mediated Gameplay has some of the aspects of Single-Player Games and some of the aspects of Multiplayer Games.

Given this basis, several patterns that are more specific can affect various parts of the interaction players have. Cameras allow players to view Game Worlds from perspective not tied to the one's given by Avatars. Communication Channels allows players to talk to each other using non-diegetic communication. More unusual, Self-Reported Positioning allows players themselves to provide their location to the game system in games that make use of this data.

Chat Channels also create Mediated Gameplay, but this is most often a natural consequence of using that pattern (and most often in games that have Mediated Gameplay anyway) than a motivation for using the pattern.

Interface Aspects

Mediated Gameplay assumes the presence of an interface that controls at least parts of how players can interact with the game system and each other. For this reason, it is a Interface Pattern. This makes decisions on what information is presented to players a central part of designing Mediated Gameplay, with options on giving Imperfect or Perfect Information on both local and global levels of the game state.

While many other Interface Patterns can be part of Mediated Gameplay, they do not necessarily need to be so since the gameplay may primarily be done unmediated with only some presentations being mediated. Patterns which are difficult to support without Mediated Gameplay include Split-Screen Views, Third-Person Views, Tooltips, and Vision Modes. While Self-Reported Positioning also requires Mediated Gameplay, it modulates the pattern rather than is created by it.

Narration Aspects

Since Mediated Gameplay gives the design a possibility to control how players experience the gameplay and Game World, it is a powerful tool in enforcing Predetermined Story Structures and providing Surprises.


The use of Mediated Gameplay allows games to control information about the gameplay, and presenting the state of the Game World is typically the main responsibility for any game with a diegetic setting. The mediation makes it less of a problem to hold the game state in stasis until it suits players to interact with the game, and for this reason, Mediated Gameplay provides a basis for Asynchronous Gameplay.

While the mediation can be used to provide both Imperfect and Perfect Information about the parts of the game state or the entirety of it, Mediated Gameplay also allows for more specific design solutions regarding information presentation, e.g. Split-Screen Views, Third-Person Views, Tooltips, and Vision Modes. It can also allow different narration to different players in Multiplayer Games through the use of Phasing.

When some parts of gameplay is accessible through Mediated Gameplay but other is not, this can make a game have Tiered Participation. That is, some players may be able to participate in the gameplay in a mediated form while others participate physically and this is likely to put different requirements on what is expected from them.

Mediated Gameplay is very likely to have an influence on Multiplayer Games when the communication between the players also is mediated; this typically happens except in the cases when players make sure they have another communication channel (most simply done by sitting close to each other). The primary effect of this is to make Unmediated Social Interaction impossible, which makes many aspects of Coordination, Cooperation, and Negotiation more difficult; aspects made easier include lying and keeping up appearances. However, Communication Channels can alleviate most of this effect and may be a likely candidate to modify Mediated Gameplay since Social Interaction is often a design goal for games. For Enactment, Mediated Gameplay typically limits the expressiveness possible which makes nuances performances difficult but also makes it less obvious if one falls out of character temporarily. Physical Enactment is even more restricted by Mediated Gameplay, but games such as the Guitar Hero and SingStar series or any using Kinect or Sony Move technology show how Mimetic Interfaces can be created by combining the two.

Further, Mediated Gameplay can make players have Limited Communication Abilities and when this is consciously enforced, it can lead to Player Anonymity and Actor Detachment, or in some cases even Enforced Player Anonymity. Even when players have good possibilities to communicate, the co-presence of Avatars, Handles, or Player Characters can give players the Possibility of Anonymity. Since Mediated Gameplay does not easily provide the full context in which player is participating in the game, it does make Interruptibility more difficult to support and through this work against Social Adaptability; the latter can be mitigated through specific design solutions such as Drop-In/Drop-Out gameplay. Game Lobbies can help players familiarize themselves with each other and determine how the game should be played in Multiplayer Games with Mediated Gameplay, and may be especially suitable for games with Teams or TvT gameplay.


Can Instantiate

Actor Detachment, Enforced Player Anonymity, Game Worlds, Imperfect Information, Limited Communication Abilities, Perfect Information, Player Anonymity, Predetermined Story Structures, Split-Screen Views, Surprises, Tiered Participation, Third-Person Views, Tooltips, Vision Modes

with Avatars, Handles, or Player Characters

Possibility of Anonymity

with Physical Enactment

Mimetic Interfaces

with Communication Channels

Social Interaction

Can Modulate

Asynchronous Gameplay, Coordination, Cooperation, Enactment, Multiplayer Games, Negotiation

Can Be Instantiated By

Chat Channels, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Game Masters, Game Servers, Massively Single-Player Online Games

Can Be Modulated By

Cameras, Communication Channels, Meta Servers, Self-Reported Positioning

Game Lobbies in Multiplayer Games or those with Teams or TvT gameplay

Phasing in Multiplayer Games

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Interruptibility, Social Adaptability, Unmediated Social Interaction


New pattern created in this wiki.