Difference between revisions of "Extra-Game Consequences"

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search
Line 53: Line 53:
[[Legacy Games]],
[[Trans-Game Information]]
[[Trans-Game Information]]

Latest revision as of 10:09, 4 April 2018

Consequences outside game states that are due to actions or events within those game states.

Games can be designed so that what happens in the game also affects something outside the game system. This means that the various gameplay events taking place can have Extra-Game Consequences, both negative and positive. Besides those consequences that are intentionally put into the games by the designers, the skills and knowledge player learn can be seen as Extra-Game Consequences although how easily transferable these are to other activities (including other games) is debated. The use of designed Extra-Game Consequences stretches the common perception that games should be separate from the real world so that effects of playing games should be trivial or at least less serious than performing an action which a game simulates (sometimes called in the magic circle[1]).


Gambling Games such as Craps, Poker, and Roulette all contain rules regarding bets. Although the bets may be about trivial or illusionary resources, it is typically not considered that one is playing the games properly unless the added tension of being able to win or loss money is present.

The Doris & Frank Gene in the expansion Primordial Soup: Freshly Spiced of Ursuppe has the slightly humoristic effect of letting the owner of it after the game ends decide which game to play next.

Although not confirmed, the now discontinued Facebook game (Lil) Green Patch offered players to raise money to save rain forests by playing the game. Extra-Game Consequences can be added into games after they have been released. One example of this can be found in FarmVille, where the developers after the earthquake in Haiti 2009 made it possible to buy the in-game items 'sweet seeds' for real money, and half the profit from these were given to charities.[2]

Games with persistent game worlds such as World of Warcraft and Ultima Online require players to work to improve their characters or gain rare items. This effort put into the gameplay adds value to the characters or items and real world markets for trading these exists, regardless of the game developers intentions. This is especially evident in Entropia Universe since the game currency has a fixed exchange rate to the US dollar.

Tournaments of any type of game often have a price consisting of money or valuable items. Winning these are of course a type of Extra-Game Consequences.

If the skills and knowledge developed when playing games are transferable to other fields have been argued for a long time. Go and Chess have been popular among nobility and military as ways of bringing awareness to tactical and strategic aspects of warfare. Besides these, it is not controversial to claim that games with historical settings such as the Civilization, the Europa Universalis, and the Hearts of Iron series can make players aware of geographical, cultural, and technological facts although these may be presented ahistorically or greatly simplified to academic models. Likewise, Live Action Roleplaying Games may require players to learn crafts to prepare and maintain props, both before and during gameplay. An example of a debate subject in the early 21 century is if the experience of being guild leaders in MMOGs such as Ultima Online and World of Warcraft are beneficial to mention in curriculum vitae[3].

Using the pattern

Not all effects based on actions or events connected to games need to affect the game state of the game itself. They can instead translate the results of a game into real-world rewards or penalties, provide the basis for other games, or simply give players additional experiences. A special case is that of Legacy Games, where Extra-Game Consequences change how future game instance of the same game will play out through adding, removing, or changing game components or rules. However, basically all Multiplayer Games can have Extra-Game Consequences regardless of the designers intentions due to the Social Interaction they provide. This since players may get to known each other and found friendships based upon their common experiences, or may get annoyed at the other players' behavior and let this carry over beyond a game session (the games So Long Sucker and Intrigue are noteworthy in this context since they are designed to force players to backstab each other and thereby make the latter outcome more likely).

There are also several ways designers can introduce Extra-Game Consequences intentionally in game design. Rewards and Penalties can be used for this purpose and although they do not affect the game states in these cases they are often linked to corresponding Rewards and Penalties in game games. Betting is a way to easily add Extra-Game Consequences in the form of real-world Rewards or Penalties, and is most often applied to Quick Games. This may introduce a conversion rate between Game Elements or Scores and real world money which links Investments in the game with real world Investments and thereby create Gambling. All types of this kind of Betting make the related goals into Committed Goals. Prices for winning Tournaments or placing oneself sufficiently high is another way of adding Extra-Game Consequences through Rewards besides the Meta Games they create, and may also be Committed Goals if players need to make Investments in the form of entry fees. As a side note, these types of Extra-Game Consequences are likely to add Tension to a game which in turn can lead to the Extra-Game Consequences of emotions not being limited to the gaming experiences.

While Betting (and Tournaments) can be enforced by Dedicated Game Facilitators (e.g. casinos), it can for be very difficult for game designers of Self-Facilitated Games to hinder players from adding this if they wish. Another type of Rewards and Penalties possible are those connect to Game-Based Social Statuses, e.g. receiving Achievements or gaining or losing ranks in High Score Lists - the magnitude of these consequences can be increased through using Global High Score Lists and other Public Player Statistics. Illusionary Rewards are by definition outside the game system and thus examples Extra-Game Consequences. Player-Defined Goals are typically overlapping with Illusionary Rewards and thereby the Rewards or Penalties associated with them are also Extra-Game Consequences.

The time and effort players put into a game may be Investments that can start to have Extra-Game Consequences simply because other players may not want or be able to spend that time and effort. Games with Persistent Game Worlds often display this effect, and as a consequence players may start with Game Element Trading between each other using real world currency. What is traded depends on other gameplay structures: it may be rare Tools, areas of Game Worlds that are Resource Generators, Characters which have had extensive Character Development, or simply Cosmetic Game Items. While these are examples of Purchasable Game Advantages since they have a monetary cost, they may be frowned upon when they are provided by players instead through official channels from the game facilitators. Another type of effort players may need to provide for gameplay is physical exertion; games that demand this through for example Player Physical Prowess do have the Extra-Game Consequences that players are exercising while playing the game.

All Meta Games instantiate Extra-Game Consequences in the games they build upon since they convey Trans-Game Information and thereby provide the basis for other games. Related, the inclusion of Extra-Game Actions in a game design (which players may force through Betting as mentioned above) automatically add Extra-Game Consequences. Team Development in the cases where the Teams are maintained between game instances in an example of how the changes to the Teams are Extra-Game Consequences and where Extra-Game Actions can be used to train in-between the instances and the development in itself can be seen as a Meta Game.

The ability of having Ubiquitous Gameplay in a game is also likely to cause Extra-Game Consequences since even small gameplay actions may affect the environment when in public environment, if nothing else from neglecting ones surroundings. While this is an effect of the Ubiquitous Gameplay pattern, games supporting this pattern can also intentionally be changed by making Extra-Game Consequences affect game states.

There are several ways of adding to the experience of gaming without affecting the game state. The most common is probably the unfolding of Predetermined Story Structures since this is often done without changing the game state, e.g. through Cutscenes. By doing so, they are Extra-Game Consequences that provides an additional experience even though they may provide players with information that is needed for, or helps, future gameplay. When Roleplaying is done through Enactment beyond simply stating how one interacts with the system, this is a form of Social Rewards that results in Extra-Game Consequences. So does retelling Game Instance Stories (which Persistent Game Worlds provide a good ground for since players can build their own stories within them). The possibility of Altruistic Actions (as for example done when buying sweet seeds in FarmVille or donating books in Conspiracy for Good) adds the experience of being philanthropic. Creating Replays do not either affect game states but let play sessions be viewed later by both the players that created them and others. Games that manage to make people reconsider aspects outside the game through gameplay is another type of Extra-Game Consequence. This can be achieved through successful uses of Changes in Perception of Real World Phenomena due to Gameplay.

If one wishes to avoid Extra-Game Consequences, Enforced Player Anonymity can work as long but it may also require that the group of players can not be identified either.

Diegetic Aspects

Informing players of Extra-Game Consequences are very likely to clash with both Diegetic and Thematic Consistency since the consequences are outside the game and thereby outside its diegesis. In addition, the information may work against Engrossment since it draws attention to something outside the gameplay.

A simple example of Extra-Game Consequences is that of giving Avatars cosmetic changes due to Character Development or equipping of Cosmetic Game Items. Another is to allow the Naming of Avatars, Characters, Units, Territories, or Abstract Player Constructs since this does rarely affect gameplay proper.

Interface Aspects

Extra-Game Consequences are essentially feedback to actions done in game interfaces that do not represent changes in the game state. Sometimes, when one wants Clickability for example, the purpose of these Extra-Game Consequences may be nothing else than to encourage the actions.


One of the most well-known examples of Extra-Game Consequences is Gambling. When the Extra-Game Consequences are that information is passed to a Meta Game, this is the transfer of Trans-Game Information. Extra-Game Consequences can easily increase the amount of Tension in a game since the effects of gaming go beyond the local gaming activity.

Extra-Game Consequences can support Clickability when added as direct feedback to basic actions performed in the game, and this works even if there is no other gameplay effect of the action.


Can Instantiate

Altruistic Actions, Clickability, Gambling, Legacy Games, Tension, Trans-Game Information

with Betting

Committed Goals

with Scores


Can Modulate

Game Elements, Investments, Penalties, Quick Games, Rewards, Scores, Ubiquitous Gameplay

Can Be Instantiated By

Achievements, Betting, Changes in Perception of Real World Phenomena due to Gameplay, Character Development, Cosmetic Game Items, Cutscenes, Enactment, Extra-Game Actions, Game-Based Social Statuses, Game Instance Stories, Global High Score Lists, High Score Lists, Illusionary Rewards, Meta Games, Multiplayer Games, Naming, Persistent Game Worlds, Player-Defined Goals, Player Physical Prowess, Predetermined Story Structures, Public Player Statistics, Replays, Social Interaction, Social Rewards, Team Development, Tension, Tournaments, Ubiquitous Gameplay

Game Element Trading together with Character Development, Cosmetic Game Items, Resource Generators, or Tools

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Diegetic Consistency, Enforced Player Anonymity, Engrossment, Thematic Consistency


An updated version of the pattern Extra-Game Consequences that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[4].


  1. Salen, K & Zimmerman, E. (2003). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. The MIT Press. ISBN 0262240459
  2. News article Zynga donates $487,500 to Haiti's children at Vator.tv.
  3. News article World of Warcraft Players Need Not Apply at nytimes.com.
  4. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.


Jonas Linderoth, Richard Wetzel