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The goal of achieving a set of several other goals.

Games offer goals for players to try and reach, and many games provide many goals. One way of organizing these goals is to make additional goals which consist of reaching specific other goals, i.e., Collections of other goals. This creates a hierarchy of goals that can be used to provide a gameplay structure and allow planning of how players experience a game.


Collections exist in many if not most games. In Lotto, a Collection is completed by getting matching numbers during a draw. Pac-Man has to gobble up all the pills to finish a level. While eating each pill is a very low-level goal, the goal for each level is the Collection of all pills. Players try to survive exploring Drakborgen and get the most valuable Collection of treasures.

In contrast, participants in a Decathlon try to win as many events as possible where each event can be seen as a game or competition. Similarly, the WarioWare series focuses on small and quick games that must be completed in sequence as part of a Collection.

Using the pattern

A basic requirement of integrating Collections into a game design is choosing what things are to be gathered through Collecting. Most Game Items can work for gathering diegetic Collections, and the Collecting or Ownership needed can be enabled for example through Gain Ownership, Transfer of Control, or through making the Game Items in question into Pick-Ups. Collections are however defined independently of how these are acquired Game ItemsDeliver examines the goal of moving a Game Item to a particular point and the goals can be combined. Deciding which things need to be collected can be seen as defining a Set of Game Items, but such Sets can provide other benefits than only completing a Collection goal. Collections of Resources can be used to define Scores.

While Collecting each thing for the Collection can be seen as a Goal in itself, other Goals (including other Collections) can be used explicitly to form Collection goals. Goals of eliminating Enemies (including Last Man Standing) is one possible example of using other Goals (specifically Eliminate) to make a Collection goal. Collections can also consist of Check Points as a way of tracking progress, this use adds most benefit in Races which do not have a forced linear progression. Achievements open up for meta game Collections and achieving a set of endings in games with Open Destiny is another meta game example.

Narration Aspects

Collections can support Quests or Narration Structures if it makes sense to progress the intended story due to several Game Items being brought together. Examples of this include parts that can be used to build or repair Tools, Vehicles, or Installations. Another case when Collections supports Narration Structures is when several different diegetic goals need to be solved to achieve something, e.g., resolving a conflict by convincing all involved participants to make peace.


By its definition of consisting of other goals, Collections create Goal Hierarchies. When requiring Game Items, it naturally leads to Collecting activities and possibly Configuration goals as well. Many Collections also help create or structure Quests and Narration Structures. Collections of Achievements create Meta Games, but Collections can themselves create Grind Achievements when combined with Goal Achievements, Optional Goals, or Testing Achievements.

More specifically Collections of Eliminate goals create Team Elimination goals, and Collections related to Resource Generators can create Dynamic Goal Characteristics.


Can Instantiate

Collecting, Configuration, Check Points, Goal Hierarchies, Narration Structures, Quests

with Achievements

Meta Games

with Eliminate

Team Elimination

with Goal Achievements, Optional Goals, or Testing Achievements

Grind Achievements

with Resource Generators

Dynamic Goal Characteristics

with Resources


Can Modulate

Game Items

Can Be Instantiated By

Achievements, Enemies, Gain Ownership, Last Man Standing, Open Destiny, Pick-Ups, Sets, Transfer of Control

Can Be Modulated By


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Collection 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.