Asymmetric Gameplay

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Gameplay which for one player does not have symmetry with the gameplay of another player or that of previous game instances.

Games offers actions and goals to players. When these actions and goals differ between different players the games provide the players with Asymmetric Gameplay. This can also occur when a player can have very different types of actions and goals between game instances of the same game.


Many Roleplaying Games, e.g. Dungeons & Dragons and World of Warcraft, provide Asymmetric Gameplay through letting players create characters to control that each have different abilities and roles depending on choices such as profession and race.

The board game Vast: The Crystal Caverns provides each player with very different goals and actions, one being that of a dragon, another being that of knight, and a third being that of the cave in which the others move about. Other board games providing players with very asymmetrical gameplay include Ogre and Space Hulk. Both let one player control significantly more units than the other and Space Hulk puts time limits on one player but not on the other. A weaker example can be found in Memoir '44 where the asymmetry consists of differences in types and numbers of "command cards" (and to a lesser degree units).

Using the pattern

Asymmetric Gameplay is typically used in a game design to provide Varied Gameplay. It is typically designed as part of a game through a more specific pattern, e.g. Asymmetric Abilities, Asymmetric Goals, Asymmetric Information, Asymmetric Resource Distribution, Asymmetric Roles, or Asymmetric Starting Conditions.

Naturally, Asymmetric Gameplay is in conflict with having Symmetry on the same level in a game.


As stated above, Asymmetric Gameplay creates Varied Gameplay. It typically through this also provides Replayability as long as not all types of gameplay are guaranteed to be exhausted within a game instance. It can also create Reflective Communication in games with Cooperation or Negotiation.


Can Instantiate

Replayability, Varied Gameplay

with Cooperation or Negotiation

Reflective Communication

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Asymmetric Abilities, Asymmetric Goals, Asymmetric Information, Asymmetric Resource Distribution, Asymmetric Roles, Asymmetric Starting Conditions

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.