Shared Penalties

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

Penalties shared between some or all players for a failure to meet a requirement in a game.

Games where players, willingly or by force, strive towards achieving common goals usually have Shared Penalties for failing those goals - in some cases the only common goal can be to avoid the Shared Penalties. These penalties may be the loss of common resources or the division of penalties between individual players but the penalties are treated as one penalty for failing one action or goal.


Losing matches in Counter-Strike, Ice Hockey, League of Legends, and Soccer are all examples of Shared Penalties. In cooperative games such as Dead of Winter, Lord of the Rings, Pandemic, and Space Alert the players can all lose if things go too bad, but also smaller setbacks can affect all players equally in some of the games.

Game masters in Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons & Dragons or Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay can apply penalties to all party if they fail with quests they have been given.

Using the pattern

Shared Penalties can be used for several purposes. One is to give players the Mutual Goals of avoiding them and another is to attach them to already existing Mutual Goals to make them more important. If Shared Penalties can be the result of failing Collaborative Actions, the combination makes players have Committed Goals. They are one essential part of creating Teams (the other being Shared Rewards). They can also be used to strengthen the ties of Alliances, Factions, or Social Organizations as well as being the basis for many types of Social Dilemmas. Sometimes Shared Penalties are simply the effect of Tied Results (which can be avoid through using Tiebreakers). Team Elimination is a self-explaining example of a Shared Penalties.

Shared Penalties can be modified in a couple of different ways. First of all, the Penalties may be applied to Shared Resources. Second it might be possible Negotiation if and when the Shared Penalties should be taken, and this can be taken even further be having Player-Decided Distributions of the Shared Penalties.

Altruistic Actions may make Shared Penalties impossible if they allow players to take a Penalty so nobody else has to.


Shared Penalties are obviously a form of Penalties. Experiencing them together with other can give these people the sense of Togetherness. Handling how to manage or distribute them, or when they may be acceptable to take, may define a Social Role.

They are obviously not Individual Penalties but being the target of them may work against players feeling an Exaggerated Perception of Influence since they may not be the reasons why they got penalized.


Can Instantiate

Mutual Goals, Penalties, Social Dilemmas, Social Roles, Teams, Togetherness

with Collaborative Actions

Committed Goals

Can Modulate

Alliances, Social Organizations

Can Be Instantiated By

Collaborative Actions, Factions, Team Elimination, Tied Results

Can Be Modulated By

Negotiation, Player-Decided Distributions, Shared Resources

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Altruistic Actions, Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Individual Penalties, Tiebreakers


An updated version of the pattern Shared Penalties 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.