Uncertainty of Outcome

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

The characteristic of a game that it is difficult to reliably determine what the final outcome of a game instance will be before gameplay begins.

A central part of gameplay experiences is that players do not know what the final outcome will be; this is what lets players feel that they have a possibility to affect the outcome or let them pick an outcome that wish will occur. Having an Uncertainty of Outcome each time the game is played is the requirement for this.


Gambling Games, for example Blackjack, Guts, Roulette, and Texas Hold'em, rely on heavily on uncertainty that comes from a combination of randomness and unpredictability of what other players will do. They share the latter with perfect information games such as Chess and Go but here the unpredictability of other players depend on the difficulty of being able to calculate the full consequences of the actions possible.

Sports such as Bowling, Figure Skating, and Soccer, have Uncertainty of Outcome because players can perform actions with varying levels of success. This is also found in computer-based Real-Time Games, e.g. Counter-Strike series, League of Legends, and Pong.

Using the pattern

Uncertainty of Outcome is very often a design goal in games since it provides a basic Tension to gameplay. Being more a consequence of more specific rule design than a characteristics directly appearing through rules, it is typically made present in a game through specific subpatterns. Third main sources for Uncertainty of Outcome can be pointed out. First, uncertainty can simply come from Randomness. Second, the complexity of the game state or game system can give players Solution Uncertainty. Thirdly, uncertainty can come from the players themselves or other Agents in a game through Performance Uncertainty, Player Unpredictability, or Unpredictable Behavior. As a more specific case, End State Scoring can cause Uncertainty of Outcome not only from the means above, but also because not all factors related to the scoring may have been set until the end of gameplay.

There are some other reasons why Uncertainty of Outcome can be a design goal in a game. One such reasons is to either make Betting possible or to make it interesting, another to have a basic foundation for Replayability. A variant of Betting, Bidding, instead has uncertainty from players typically not knowing how much other players are willing to bid.


As stated above, Uncertainty of Outcome typically adds Tension to games, and in many cases provide Replayability as well. It works directly against Dominant Strategies and through this also against a Predictable Winner and Kingmaker. It can make players with Gameplay Mastery be less likely to win but still let them have an advantage based upon their expertise.


Can Instantiate

Betting, Luck, Replayability, Tension

Can Modulate

Gameplay Mastery

Can Be Instantiated By

Bidding, End State Scoring, Performance Uncertainty, Player Unpredictability, Randomness, Solution Uncertainty, Unpredictable Behavior

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Dominant Strategies, Kingmaker, Predictable Winner


New pattern created in this wiki.