Save Scumming

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Overuse of saving and loading possibilities in games that replay taking on gameplay challenges.

Creating and loading save files is common in many computer games since it allows players to make extended pauses in games as well as try solutions to challenges many times or try different solutions to the same challenge. However, players may use save files extensively to overcome challenges by getting information they were not intended to have, to have lucky breaks, or in other ways overcome challenges in ways not intended in the design. This is called Save Scumming since it is typically seen as a bad form of playing a game, and close to or indifferent from cheating.

TVTropes has an entry for Save Scumming[1]. Gamasutra also has an article about The Save Scumming Problem[2].


All Computer Games that allow re-use of save files can have problems with [[Save Scumming]. However, they tend to be more common with games that include Mini Games in their design, which is the case for some installments in the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series.


Roguelikes such as Rogue, Nethack, and Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress, make Save Scumming difficult by only supporting one save files and removing it when it has been loaded into a game. While allowing players to engage in Save Scumming, the expansion Throne of Bhaal to the Baldur's Gate series mocks Save Scumming through having a NPC group use it against players.

Using the pattern

Save Scumming requires players to have the possibility to extensively make use of loading Save Files and to a lesser degree being able to create Save Files, so the pattern builds upon the ability of players to manipulate Save Files and do Save-Load Cycles. It is especially likely in games with these feature combined with Mini Games as exemplified above, since the design then encourages players to save just before engaging in the Mini Games with little too lose from reloading game states if one failed with the particular Mine Game.

As a Negative Pattern, Save Scumming may be something that is more often designed again than for. One of the most common ways, shown by the Roguelikes above, is to have only allow each player on Save File (i.e. putting a Resource Cap on the number of Save Files).

While the purpose of Difficulty Levels can be ruined by players performing Save Scumming, creating Difficulty Levels on the right premises can instead focus players on trying to overcome the challenges poses by a game through gameplay. Therefore, modifying how Difficulty Levels are created can be used as a way to mitigate Save Scumming if it has been detected in a game. The Throne of Bhaal example given above also shows how narration can be used to expose players to negative views on Save Scumming.


The main reason Save Scumming is perceived as a Negative Pattern is that it makes the design of Difficulty Levels, Permadeath, and Surprises void or invalid. Further, it gives rise to players engaging in Excise built upon Extra-Game Actions that amounts to Grinding. None of these things are probably wanted by players, so Save Scumming is typically seen as a design problem (or a player behavior problem).


Can Instantiate

Excise, Extra-Game Actions, Grinding

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Save Files, Save-Load Cycles

Mini Games in games with Save-Load Cycles

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Difficulty Levels, Permadeath, Surprises

Save Files when used together with Resource Caps


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. TV Tropes entry for Save Scumming.
  2. Schwarz, E. The Save Scumming Problem. Gamasutra. Published 2012-01-13.