Player-Avatar Proximity

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Game rules that depend on players being physically close to avatars.

Being close to other players is important in games where players physically enact gameplay action, e.g. Live Action Roleplaying Games and Sports. Likewise, games the proximity to other avatars is usually important in games that take place in virtual environments, for example Fighting Games, FPS Games, and Massively Multiplayer Online Games. However, a less common case is when the physical location of one player and the virtual location of another player's avatar are important to gameplay. This Player-Avatar Proximity feature can only occur in games where players' locations are mapped to virtual environment (or vice versa) but then give players an additional level of complexity of spatial relations.


The pervasive game Can You See Me Now? pitches group of players navigating real world environments against individual ones that move their avatars on a game map of the real world environment. Through GPS devices the locations of the first group is positioned on the map and the group can use this to catch the individual players by coming close to their avatars.

Uncle Roy All Around You is a co-operative game where a player navigating the real world can team up with one navigating a virtual one to complete tasks.

Using the pattern

Being in some sense a combination of Player-Player Proximity and how Avatars can interact with each other, the design of Player-Avatar Proximity has the possibilities of both and often the consequences of them as well. As one example, Extended Actions can be used both to require a certain time before the proximity is acknowledged by the game system and the effect of being in the proximity can be an Extended Action.


Player-Avatar Proximity is a specific gameplay feature that can be used in Hybrid Gameplay Spaces, which modifies both how players can act within these spaces and the Avatars inhabiting them. Given that both players and avatars have possibility to move, the pattern creates Physical Navigation and is likely to create Orthogonal Differentiation in the form of Privileged Movement since it is unlikely that players and avatars will have the same possibility of moving. These two ways of locomotion is likely to give games additional Replayability, especially if players need to choose Character Classes and these provide only one of the types of locomotion.

Placing players close to each other, even if one is present through an avatar, is also likely to create Social Interaction between them.


Can Instantiate

Orthogonal Differentiation, Physical Navigation, Privileged Movement, Replayability, Social Interaction

Can Modulate

Avatars, Hybrid Gameplay Spaces

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Extended Actions

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



Updated version of the pattern Player-Avatar Proximity first described in the paper Understanding Pervasive Games through Gameplay Design Patterns[1].


  1. Peitz, J. & Björk, S. (2007). Understanding Pervasive Games through Gameplay Design Patterns. Paper presentation at DiGRA 2007, Tokyo, Japan.


Johan Peitz