Role Fulfillment

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The fulfillment experienced when being good at your assigned or implicit role in a group, or the frustration experienced when you have fulfilled your role, but the group still fails

Playing a game requires players to subject themselves to certain restrictions and objectives on how they should behave. When these restrictions and objectives take the form of a role - either only to the players taking on these or to others as well - players can perceive Role Fulfillment of these roles as a goal in itself.


Masking one's intentions in a game requires players to take on a role and thereby give them the chance of experiencing Role Fulfillment. Examples of Board Games in which this occurs include Diplomacy, Intrigue, and So Long Sucker. Some Board Games, e.g. Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game and Shadows over Camelot, have a variant of this where most people cooperate but the system designates a few players as traitors and requires them to act as something they are not in able to have a chance to win the game.

Playing one's character in Tabletop Roleplaying Games such as Vampire: The Masquerade or Dungeons & Dragons provides players with Role Fulfillment goals related to making decisions as the character would as well as enacting the characters behavior appropriately. Game masters of these games can have the same goals besides also trying to tell a good story and using there greater power over the gameplay to make sure the game is enjoyable for all. Storytelling Games such as Fiasco and Once Upon a Time provide the same types of Role Fulfillment goals but rely on all players taking on these more seriously (especially since no game master exists in them). Live Action Roleplaying Games such as 1942 – Noen å stole på and Monitor Celestra are similar (although they may have game masters) but further stress good enactment.

Games such as the Guitar Hero series, the Rock Band series, and Wii Sports requires players to physically enact activities based upon some other real world activity. In doing so, they provide a Role Fulfillment goal for the players even if becoming a skillful player may not be the same as behaving as closely to the base activity.

Using the pattern

Giving players roles to try to fulfill rather obviously requires that there exists roles. This naturally suggested the use of Characters to create Role Fulfillment and this can further be expanded upon through the use of Character Defining Actions and Player-Created Characters. Generally, providing players with different types of Freedom of Choice for Characters let them select or create the roles to fulfill, which may both make it easier for them to succeed with this and may make the experience of succeeding more pleasurable; Initial Personalization is the most likely the most efficient way of doing this but can be used together with many other ways of giving players Freedom of Choice.

However, there are many other roles possible in games that that of Characters. In fact, being a player can be seen as a role (see Sicart[1] for a discussion on what it means to be a good player) but this is outside a stance looking at specific types of gameplay except that being able to show that one has Gameplay Mastery can become a role in itself. Enactment and Roleplaying require players to behave according to certain role descriptions, and while these may often be tied to Characters this is not always the case. Games with Mimetic Interfaces are more specific examples of this type of Enactment, it is for example debatable what specific Character a players is trying to be while performing during a song in any game in the Guitar Hero or Rock Band series). Being Traitors or setting up for a Betrayal requires players to also take on roles that are not directly linked to Characters; games such as Diplomacy and Intrigue are examples of this, and to a lesser degree also Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game.

Being Dedicated Game Facilitators is an example of a role that can be performed better or worse in a game instance while not being based on specific Characters; the more specific pattern of Game Masters also requires Enactment and Roleplaying of various NPCs. Storytelling well may be part of being a good Game Master, but may also be part of being a good player as shown through games such as Fiasco and Once Upon a Time.

Role Selection and Selectable Functional Roles are more specific patterns dealing with how players can choose roles and thereby the goals of playing these well, while Asymmetric Roles make the distinction between the different roles greater. Player Defined Goals can let players create their own goals of Role Fulfillment if the goals are at least partly defined through any of the roles discussed above. Warming-Up Roleplay Exercises and Workshopping are used in some Live Action Roleplaying Games to help players familiarize themselves with their roles or to flesh out the roles through adding details and relations to them.

Diegetic Aspects

See consequences, below.

Narration Aspects

As mentioned above, performing Storytelling well in a game can be a role and thereby give opportunity for Role Fulfillment in games that have this pattern.


Both Diegetic and Thematic Consistency have bi-directional relations to Role Fulfillment in that part of the requirements on roles taken on can be maintain these consistencies while the roles can also partly be defined by these consistencies.


Can Instantiate

Diegetic Consistency, Thematic Consistency

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Betrayal, Character Defining Actions, Characters, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Diegetic Consistency, Enactment, Game Masters, Gameplay Mastery, Initial Personalization, Mimetic Interfaces, Player Defined Goals, Player-Created Characters, Role Selection, Roleplaying, Selectable Functional Roles, Storytelling, Thematic Consistency, Traitors

Can Be Modulated By

Asymmetric Roles, Warming-Up Roleplay Exercises, Workshopping

Freedom of Choice together with Characters

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Sicart, M. 2011. The Ethics of Computer Games. MIT Press.