Player Anonymity

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The case where the identity of a player of a game is not known to other players.

Player Anonymity occurs in games when the identity of a player is not known by the other players participating in a specific game instance.

Note: This patterns focuses on how players may be unaware of other players' identities. It does not focus on if Dedicated Game Facilitators, Game Masters, and even Spectators know the identities of the players.


Most online games let players create accounts with user names that have no connection to their real world identities. This lets players of games such as the Counter-Strike series, the Battlefield series, the Left 4 Dead series, Kingdoms, Ultima Online, and World of Warcraft have rich interactions with each other without knowing who the others are outside the game.

The ESP Game relies on players not being able to communicate with each other to force them into finding as good as possible one word descriptions of images. For this reason, the game enforces Player Anonymity on the players.

Using the pattern

A primary design decision regarding Player Anonymity is if players should have a say in this. Providing players with a Possibility of Anonymity puts this power in players hand but for some types of gameplay anonymity may be required for the design to work and in these case Enforced Player Anonymity may be motivated (e.g. the ESP Game). Patterns that directly can help in designing Player Anonymity include Anonymous Actions and Mediated Gameplay. Friend Lists works against the pattern since the central idea of that pattern is to help players identify each other.

Combining Player Anonymity with Unmediated Social Interaction poses significant design challenges without at least limiting the Social Interaction in some way. Social Roles are more difficult to have in games with Player Anonymity, but Functional Roles provides one avenue for overcoming this through basing the roles on gameplay functionality.


Player Anonymity can help (other) players have Actor Detachment since it is difficult to connect real world characteristics of the players with what happens in the game. However, Social Interaction between players can become harsher since the sense of social responsibility and wish to present a socially acceptable presence may be lessened.


Can Instantiate

Actor Detachment

Can Modulate

Social Interaction

Can Be Instantiated By

Anonymous Actions, Enforced Player Anonymity, Mediated Gameplay, Possibility of Anonymity

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Friend Lists, Social Roles, Unmediated Social Interaction


New pattern created in this wiki.