Choke Points

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Areas in game worlds which can be used to block access to other areas.

Parts of game worlds can be narrow or otherwise quite difficult to move through. When this funnels movement between different parts of game worlds into small areas, these areas become Choke Points which can easily be used to hinder access to other parts of the game worlds.


Choke Points are used in maps for many multiplayer First-Person Shooters as they concentrate gameplay activity. Counter-Strike has Choke Points a numerous Choke Points, for example the double doors in the Dust2 map and the stairs to the second floor of the safe-house in the Italy map. For Team Fortress 2, examples include the tunnel in the Gold Rush map and the blue team's initial exit points in the Dustbowl map. In Battlefield 2, some areas such as the road across the dam in the Kubra Dam map may be Choke Points more for vehicles than pedestrians since those on foot have several alternative routes.

Choke Points are also common in Real-Time Strategy Games such as the Starcraft and Warcraft series. For Starcraft II, the maps Incineration Zone and Kulas Ravine especially make heavy use of Choke Points. In contrast, tactics exist in the Defense of the Ancients series to exploit Choke Points near "creep" camps to harvest them more efficiently.

Using the pattern

Choke Points can be create through designing narrow sections in Game Worlds or Levels that solely or together with just a few other Choke Points provide access between other parts of the Game Worlds or Levels. Alternatively, Inaccessible Areas, Obstacles, or Environmental Effects can be used and Environmental Effects can make the use of Choke Points a Trade-Off rather than a requirement. Of course, if several Choke Points exist between the same areas - which makes them into Flanking Routes - then players also have a choice whether to use a particular Choke Point or not. The existence of Flanking Routes may however make locations stop functioning as Choke Points if they always offer easier access to other parts of the Game Worlds. These Flanking Routes can of course contain their own Choke Points, complicating the relation between the two patterns. In games with Vehicles, Choke Points (and Flanking Routes) can be designed so they only apply to vehicular or pedestrian movement.

Galleries can specifically create Choke Points through the narrow passages they contain. Installations can also create Choke Points, and this is one way of letting players create them during gameplay if they can create the Installations. Destructible Objects can offer the same possibility if they create Obstacles when they are destroyed. The efficiency of Choke Points to block access can be greatly increased if Avatars or Units have Zone of Control abilities.

Choke Points can be used to define the limits of Arenas, and can heighten the difference between the open area in Arenas compared to other parts of Game Worlds. The same applies to Vehicle Sections, and especially so when the Choke Points are impassible when using Vehicles.


Choke Points are Strategic Locations that affect how Movement can be done in Game Worlds and Levels, primarily by making Traverse goals more difficult or by creating Conditional Passageways when Enemies are controlling them or they are blocked by Obstacles. By doing so they are often the targets of Area Control goals and this quite naturally leads to Eliminate goals also. The resulting Combat against Enemies is typically easier or harder than "normal" Combat depending on who controls the Choke Points. This can lead to Repeated Domination but can also likely shift the balance of which weapons are most efficient (powerful but short ranged weapons, such as the flamethrower of the Pyro in Team Fortress 2, is most efficient in Choke Points).

Besides creating Eliminate goals, Choke Points can create Guard goals and make Stealth goals more difficult. This is even more the case when Choke Points create Strongholds by being the only ways of getting to gameplay areas. In contrast, Choke Points can make Herd goals easier since they are fewer ways for the herded elements to escape. Providing several Choke Points for players to try to get access to is an explicit way of creating a Selectable Set of Goals (even if games with Teams can try several at once).

Choke Points in Vehicle Sections more radically affect gameplay that in other sections since the difference between top speeds and being bogged down is greater; they may also make it preferable to temporary abandon Vehicles to try an circumvent the Choke Points.

An extra effect of Choke Points in Multiplayer Games is that they increase the likelihood of players meeting each other.


Can Instantiate

Area Control, Repeated Domination, Selectable Set of Goals, Strategic Locations, Strongholds, Trade-Offs

with Enemies or Obstacles

Conditional Passageways, Eliminate

Can Modulate

Arenas, Combat, Enemies, Flanking Routes, Game Worlds, Guard, Herd, Levels, Movement, Multiplayer Games, Stealth, Traverse, Vehicle Sections, Vehicles

with Enemies


Can Be Instantiated By

Destructible Objects, Galleries, Inaccessible Areas, Installations, Environmental Effects, Obstacles

Can Be Modulated By

Flanking Routes, Zone of Control

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Flanking Routes


New pattern created in this wiki. However, it was first introduced using another template by Hullett and Whitehead[1], and a more detailed description in this template is available[2].


  1. Hullett, K. & Whitehead, J. (2010). Design Patterns in FPS Levels, paper presentation at Foundations of Digital Games 2010, June 19-21, Monterey, CA, USA.
  2. Choke Point pattern by Kenneth Hullett.


Kenneth Hullett, Jim Whitehead