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The goal of forming a spatial, temporal, or logical arrangement of game elements.

Many games make use of game elements and have their spatial position or relation to each other as part of the game state. This sets up for having Configuration goals, goals whose criteria for success are met by placing game elements in a certain Configuration. Similarly, games that distinguish gameplay into discrete time units can have Configuration goals consisting of performing actions according to a specific temporal Configuration. A third alternate can be based on logical arrangements.


The card game Illuminati uses Configuration for control groups, which can be spatially arranged to draw benefit of similarities in alignment and maximize the use of control arrows. A more abstract example is Poker and Texas Hold'em, where winning rounds consists of having the rarest set of a set of predetermined Configurations.

Zendo is an abstract game where the winning condition is to guess a Configuration decided by a player.

Using the pattern

The design of Configuration goals depend on which game elements should form the Configuration, what spatial relations they should form, and what should happen when one fails or succeeds with the goal. Specific ways of creating Configuration include Alignment and Enclosure. The latter is less specific on the exact spatial arrangement and other Configuration goals that need little or no spatial arrangement include Collections, Combos, and Connection. Rhythm-Based Actions can be used to make the Configuration completely or much more focused on temporal Configuration than spatial.

In some cases the challenge with Configuration is simply placing the game elements, and this can be difficult due to the actions of others, Imperfect Information, or Timing requirements. In other cases the challenge can have more to do with Puzzle Solving. Configuration can easily be designed to support or break Symmetry regarding the placement of game elements in a game.

A typical effect of succeeding with Configuration goals in the Capture of some game elements. This means that Configuration goals are often motivated by Gain Ownership goals. While this can cause Game Element Removal of captured game elements, the game elements used to create the Configuration can also be removed (or become stuck) and this Game Element Removal can stop the goal from being completed several times.

Configuration goals can be made so they are mutually exclusive — they are Incompatible Goals — by requiring the use of the same game elements when the game elements can't be reused. This makes these goals into a Selectable Set of Goals.


Given that Configuration uses spatial relations, they often offer Hovering Closures to players that are beginning to near the completion of the Configuration.


Can Instantiate

Capture, Game Element Removal, Hovering Closures

with Incompatible Goals

Selectable Set of Goals

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Alignment, Collections, Combos, Connection, Enclosure Gain Ownership, Puzzle Solving, Rhythm-Based Actions

Can Be Modulated By

Imperfect Information, Incompatible Goals, Timing

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Configuration 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.