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Ancillary actions necessary for gameplay but that do not contribute directly to gameplay.

This pattern is a still a stub.

Note: the concept of Excise comes from the field of Human-Computer Interaction[1].


Using the pattern

Excise is usually seen as a Negative Pattern which although unwanted occurs as a consequence of wanted design features. Thus, designing for Excise is typically aimed at minimizing the effects of it. The need for Excise can depend on many different design features.

The first reason for Excise comes from having to manipulate game states for other reasons than actual gameplay actions. Handling complex or detailed Abstract Player Constructs, Characters, groups of Units, or Persistent Game Worlds does so because specifics about them need to be found, described, or updated. Game Servers and Game Masters can remove this, but of course the latter requires Excise from the Game Masters themselves (Entitled Players can spread the burden somewhat). Similarly Complex Gameplay can give rise to Excise because many game elements need to be manipulated (e.g. through Game Element Insertion or updating No-Use Bonuses). More generally, any game with significant about of Gameplay Statistics that needs to be manually updated can cause Excise. For this reason, any game needing Bookkeeping Tokens can be said to have some Excise. While Current Player Tokens and First Player Tokens are examples of these, they help players remember things they need to keep track of anyway and can thereby be seen to modulate rather than create Excise. The same goes for Score Tracks. Loading and saving game states in Computer Games does produce some Excise related to manipulating game states but this is often not a problem unless players engage in Save Scumming.

Another reason for Excise comes from actions that are gameplay actions but can be perceived as meaningless or uninteresting to players. Given that Grinding is performing repetitive actions without significant challenges, any actions perceived as these can easily be perceived as Excise. More specifically applying brute force methods to find solutions to Puzzle Solving can be Excise, as can conducting Movement across uneventful terrains (having to move without Vehicles in Vehicle Sections being a prime example).

Drafting requires some Excise to swap game elements in synchronicity, and this becomes pronounced when there is no gameplay or choices involved (as for example occurs when dealing hands of Cards in many Card Games.

Zero-Player Games can be said to have made all gameplay into Excise but can still offer meaningful play to players through the Meta Games they can provide.

Can Be Instantiated By

Action Programming, Optional Rules,

Excise can easily occur in Self-Facilitated Games, especially if these make use of AI Players, Game System Player, detailed Game Worlds, or large numbers of Units.

Can Be Modulated By

Potentially Conflicting With

Dedicated Game Facilitators, Freedom of Choice, Minimalized Social Weight, Mules, Non-Player Help, Purchasable Game Advantages, Quick Returns, Vehicles

Resource Caps when Bookkeeping Tokens are used

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narration Aspects


Often, performing Excise can be seen as a form of forced No-Ops.


Can Instantiate


Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Abstract Player Constructs, Action Programming, Bookkeeping Tokens, Characters, Complex Gameplay, Drafting, Game Element Insertion, Game Masters, Gameplay Statistics, Grinding, Movement, No-Use Bonus, Optional Rules, Persistent Game Worlds, Puzzle Solving, Save Scumming, Self-Facilitated Games, Units, Vehicle Sections, Zero-Player Games

AI Players, Game System Player, Game Worlds, or Units in Self-Facilitated Games

Can Be Modulated By

Current Player Tokens, Entitled Players, First Player Tokens, Game Servers, Score Tracks

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Dedicated Game Facilitators, Freedom of Choice, Game Masters, Minimalized Social Weight, Mules, Non-Player Help, Purchasable Game Advantages, Quick Returns, Vehicles

Resource Caps when Bookkeeping Tokens are used


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D. & Noessel, C. (2014). About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, 4th edition. Wiley.


Karl Bergström