Privileged Movement

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Being able to do a form of movement that others cannot.

Many games include moving game elements as part of gameplay, but many of these have different types of movement for different types of game elements. By providing game this, some, or in rare case all, game elements have a form of Privileged Movement that gives them additional value when compared to other ones.


Knights in Chess have a privileged form of movement since they do not require line-of-sight to the square that they move to. The game of Draughts (or Checkers) requires that players promote at least one singleton to a doubleton in order to get the required Privileged Movement that is necessary to win.

The ability to fly or teleport through psychic powers or spells is an form of Privileged Movement found in Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons & Dragons or GURPS. The Fallout series and The Elder Scrolls series has Privileged Movement in a form that breaks thematic consistency - players can go through doors to move to other levels but enemies cannot.

Taking control of vehicles in Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Vietnam, or Halo give players other forms of movement that when on foot, with planes and helicopters allowing the most different type of movement.

Can You See Me Now? connects a real world environment with a virtual 2-dimensional map of it, making some players move through the real world while others move their avatars across the map. This provides Privileged Movement to the avatars since they do not need to consider traffic or difference in height.

Using the pattern

Providing Privileged Movement consists of deciding on how to change Movement for some specific Avatars or Units - and Privileged Movement can be privileged even if many game elements have it as long as not all have it. Examples of ways which Privileged Movement can affect the movement itself includes ignoring Obstacles or negative effects of Environmental Effects, or being able to use Conditional Passageways to enter otherwise Inaccessible Areas. Although not available as a choice for games other than those using both a virtual environment and a position-sensing of players, Player-Avatar Proximity is likely to create Privileged Movement since it is very difficult to have a complete mapping between both a physical environment and a virtual one and the actions physical players can do compared to avatars.

The are several possible causes for having Privileged Movement. One is of course that the Movement is simple a Privileged Ability, e.g. the ability to create Warp Zones, but other examples include be able to use Tools, Vehicles, or even Weapons (e.g. to do rocket jumps in various installments of the Quake series). Environmental Effects and the possibility of Quick Returns and Quick Travel make the benefit of Privileged Movement depend on location in Game Worlds rather than inherent abilities or access to Tools. Another cause for having Privileged Movement is to only make Game World Exploration possible through it.

Narrative Aspects

When given as New Abilities, Privileged Movement can be used to allow entry into previously Inaccessible Areas and thereby unlock new parts of Predetermined Story Structures.


Privileged Movement is a form of Privileged Abilities given to Avatars, Enemies, or Units regarding Movement and can give rise to Competence Areas. Privileged Movement can be used to make Capture, Evade, Herd, or Traverse goals easier for the one moving, but all these goals except Traverse can be made more difficult by giving it to the target instead. When given as New Abilities, it may be used to ensure that the unfolding of Predetermined Story Structures is done in a specific order due to controlling in which order Inaccessible Areas are made accessible. It can also modulate how Environmental Effects work, e.g. partially or completely mitigating Damage or Ability Losses caused by them. The can support both Competence Areas and Varied Gameplay (when either having Privileged Movement are Temporary abilities or when choosing to have a certain Privileged Movement is part of Initial Personalization) but like other Privileged Abilities, the use of Privileged Movement can potentially disrupt Player Balance.

The effects Privileged Movement allow can depend on the type of locomotion the Privileged Movement uses. Flying for example allows Game State Overviews and thereby promotes Game World Navigation and lets players have Safe Havens if their Enemies cannot fly and do not have ranged Weapons. Here air can be seen as an Inaccessible Area, and more generally being able to gain entry to Inaccessible Areas can make them into Safe Havens as long as no Enemies also has this type of Privileged Movement or that the area is already inhabited by other (possibly trapped) Enemies. It should however be noted that this type of Privileged Movement can easily make challenges to easy, e.g. making Game World Navigation into a trivial exercise. Climbing may allow vertical movement by usually depends on the material of what is climbed. Swinging requires players to perform Aim & Shoot actions, and the same is the case for use cannons in Super Mario 64 to shoot Mario to different places in the Game World. All these show how Privileged Movement can be used intentionally to create Challenging Gameplay regarding Capture and Evade goals (depending on who has the Privileged Movement).


Can Instantiate

Aim & Shoot, Competence Areas, Game State Overviews, New Abilities, Predetermined Story Structures, Privileged Abilities, Varied Gameplay

with Capture and Evade

Challenging Gameplay

with Inaccessible Areas

Safe Havens

Can Modulate

Avatars, Capture, Conditional Passageways, Enemies, Environmental Effects, Evade, Game World Exploration, Game World Navigation, Herd, Inaccessible Areas, Movement, Obstacles, Traverse, Units

Can Be Instantiated By

Environmental Effects, Player-Avatar Proximity, Quick Returns, Quick Travel, Tools, Vehicles, Warp Zones, Weapons

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Game World Navigation, Player Balance


A rewrite of the pattern Privileged Movement 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.