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Spaces for game item upgrades.

Games that allow players to upgrade their equipment sometimes do this by having specific slots for these upgrades. The slots are called Sockets after one of the most common appearance of this - that the items have slots into which gems can be fitted to provide various bonuses.


The Diablo series, Torchlight, and World of Warcraft all have equipment that players can put different types of gems into them while the the Dragon Age series provides the same functionality through runes. World of Warcraft has several types of Sockets, including those for cogs rather than gems, limiting which upgrades can be put in which equipment.

Using the pattern

Sockets are locations for placing Upgrades in Equipment and this dictates the main design options available when introducing them into a game design. Primary is to decide how many Sockets the various types of Equipment should have, and if there are different types of Sockets into which only certain types of Upgrades can be placed.

Sockets are limited in number for any Equipment and this makes them into Limited Resources. However, this can be changed in some way. Increases in the number of Sockets can be the effect of Upgrades - for example providing the Companion Isabela in Dragon Age II with a "Supportive Corselet" or "Boiled Leather Plates" gives an extra rune slot each to her. In World of Warcraft, blacksmiths can add a gem socket to a bracer or glove at the cost of making them have Enforced Ownership if equipped (they can make a "Eternal Belt Buckle" which works as an Upgrade to belts with the same cost attached).

An option existing specifically for Sockets is if the Upgrades placed within them can be remove later. World of Warcraft and Dragon Age II hinders this (but not Dragon Age) making the Upgrading in these games into Irreversible Events; while other types of Upgrading may be irreversible because the Upgrades are consumed in these case the Upgrades remains to remind players of their choice. An additional option exists when Upgrades are permanently locked in Sockets - that new Upgrades may be placed in them but that the old ones are destroyed then.

Interface Aspects

The management of Sockets may be part of the interfaces for Inventories or have their own Secondary Interface Screens as for example World of Warcraft provides.


Sockets gives players the Freedom of Choice to choose when to engage in Upgrading through using Upgrades on Equipment.

When Upgrades can be removed from Sockets, players can make Trade-Offs between their different benefits that different Upgrades can provide. When they cannot be removed, players need to do Risk/Reward choices if they should place a particular Upgrade in a particular Socket or if they should hope for a better combination later.


Can Instantiate

Freedom of Choice, Limited Resources, Trade-Offs, Upgrading

with Irreversible Events


Can Modulate

Equipment, Upgrades

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Irreversible Events, Secondary Interface Screens, Upgrades

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.