Near Miss Indicators

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Means of providing players with explicit information about how close they or others were to achieving a goal when they have failed to achieve it.

Many games do not let players succeed with all their actions. Those that do but provide players with information about how close their, or other players', misses are provide Near Miss Indicators.


Guesses that are adjacent to ships in Battleships but do not hit them require the player to state that these are "near misses".

Bowling has implicit Near Miss Indicators in that the number of pins left standing is a direct measure of how near the player was from succeeding. Further, pins are built in such way that they are prone to sway from one side to another without ultimately falling, providing another layer of implicit Near Miss Indicators in Bowling.

The design of Roulette wheels support Near Miss Indicators for bets on Red or Black colors since the design makes a loss only one slot away from one or two winning positions. Similarly, slot machines usually have the symbols arranged in such way that near misses, such as getting two cherries when three is required, are more frequent than random distribution would predict. Near Miss Indicators can be found in many other games of luck, e.g. scratch pads.

Many First Person Shooters, e.g. the Battlefield series, provide Near Miss Indicators to those being shot at.

Using the pattern

Near Miss Indicators can simply be created by making Progress Indicators that indicate not hits but close misses. They can be part of Game State Overviews and can of course have Imperfect Information. For games with Variable Accuracy, triggered Near Miss Indicators for players that have been targets of fail attacks can be reason to lower those players accuracy. For games that allow saving and loading of game states, Near Miss Indicators can encourage Save-Load Cycles.

Near Miss Indicators and Auto-Aim rarely work together since Auto-Aim mechanics tend to make near misses not happen.

Diegetic Aspects

Near Miss Indicators are probably most clearly understood as non-diegetic presentations but can in some games be integrated into the diegetic to maintain Diegetic Consistency, e.g. through sound or technical alarms to players when shots have nearly their Avatars.

Interface Aspects

Near Miss Indicators is an Interface Pattern.


Near Miss Indicators are Outcome Indicators and can have many effects on gameplay. First off, they can increase Tension since they can make players aware of how close to succeeding they were, and this can give both Clues and let them have a Determinable Chance to Succeed for their next attempt. Successful later attempt with low chances of success can let them feel Luck with knowing how close they were can promote Replayability and modify players Anticipation when about to do their new attempt. Having Near Miss Indicators can also help update Tactical Planning, that is help promote Stimulated Planning as part of gameplay. When Near Miss Indicators


Can Instantiate

Clues, Determinable Chance to Succeed, Game State Overviews, Luck, Replayability, Tension

Can Modulate

Anticipation, Outcome Indicators, Save-Load Cycles, Stimulated Planning, Tactical Planning, Variable Accuracy

Can Be Instantiated By

Progress Indicators

Can Be Modulated By

Imperfect Information

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Near Miss 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.