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The removal or changing of game elements for a sub group of players of a game instance.

Sometimes games do not want to present game worlds in the same way to different players. One reason for this can be that both sides of competing teams are supposed to see themselves as a particular group while another can be that players are to experience that the game world evolves even though it does not for other players. Phasing is a solution to this that works through either removing the game elements from the presentation of the game to certain players or by showing different game element to different players depending on where they are in specific story arcs of the game.

Note: this pattern does not include the common meaning of Phasing as a means of being intangible.


World of Warcraft uses Phasing to change the game world. Sometimes this is used to remove game elements, e.g. NPCs that give quests that a player has already completed, and sometimes to update the game world according to where a player is in a quest (an example of this is how Acherus: The Ebon Hold changes depending on where in the death knight quest series a player is)[1][2].

The design solution in America's Army that one always sees one's own team as being US soldiers and the other team as being enemies is an example of Phasing on a team level.

Using the pattern

Phasing is an option for modifying Multiplayer Games with Mediated Gameplay which allows Predetermined Story Structures to be connected to players' actions while not requiring designers to handle the complex issue of making these have permanent effects on Game Worlds. Depending on one's perspective, the pattern either modifies Game Worlds or modifies players' perceptions of them.

The main design options related to Phasing is what "phases" should exist, how players enter or exit them, and it players share them. The America's Army example shows phases that players enter as soon as they join a team and the persist entire matches while the phases in World of Warcraft are temporary ones that players enters as part of taking on Quests. Sharing "phases" between players can be seen as a way of allowing partial use of Instances (Phasing out all other players and their possibility of interacting with what "phased" players can interact with is in practice the same as using Instances). In contrast, when Phasing is applied on individual players it allows partial use of Private Game Spaces.

Diegetic Aspects

As it provides different diegesis to different players, Phasing is an example of a Diegetic Pattern.

Interface Aspects

Since Phasing works through having different players' interfaces show different things, it can be seen as an Information Pattern in addition to being Diegetic Pattern.

Narration Aspects

The main purpose of using Phasing is to provide different narration to different players. In doing so, it is also a Narration Pattern in addition to the other categories mentioned above.


Phasing typically creates Non-Consistent Narration (Alternative Realities that incorporate the multiverse concept is one way to create a consistency of a higher level of narration). This may however not be apparent to players unless they can communicate with each other directly while playing. By doing this, the pattern breaks Diegetic Consistency between players but can provide an Exaggerated Perception of Influence to them since the Game Worlds can adopt to their actions.


Can Instantiate

Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Instances, Non-Consistent Narration

Can Modulate

Game Worlds, Predetermined Story Structures, Private Game Spaces, Quests

Multiplayer Games that has Mediated Gameplay

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Alternative Realities

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Diegetic Consistency


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Entry for Phasing on the WoW Wiki.
  2. Entry for Phasing on the Giant Bomb Wiki.


Peter Holm