First-Person Views

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Games where players are shown game worlds as entities within these game worlds would perceived them.

Games that present game worlds to players can do this in various ways. When the presentation is done by tying it to what a diegetic character would perceive, this is called First-Person Views. Even if the name suggests vision-based information, other senses such as hearing and touch are also implied to be presented as if a diegetic character experienced them if they are available at all.


As the name of the genre indicates, First-Person Shooters such as Counter-Strike and the Crysis, Doom, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead series, Portal series, Quake, and Unreal Tournament all make use of First-Person Views. Later installments of the Elder Scrolls series and the Fallout series have adopted the point of view as well, as have the sandbox game Minecraft.

Racing games such as the Need for Speed series and Gran Turismo series often allow players to switch between first- and third-person views.

Live Action Roleplaying Games such as Assassin, Conspiracy for Good, Dragonbane, and Trenne Byar have First-Person Views since players literally represent characters in them.

Using the pattern

First-Person Views give players a view of Game Worlds from within them, so this requires the presence of Game Worlds and ways of creating presentations of them. For most games this means the use of Dedicated Game Facilitators but for Live Action Roleplaying games this is for free as the Game Worlds are staged as sub parts of the real world. The pattern also requires Avatars since having perceptive powers without an entity with senses is a God View even if it is spatially located.

Not too surprising, First-Person Views are not directly compatible with God Views and Third-Person Views, with an exception for Third-Person Views when mirrors, cameras, or other devices (e.g. the portals in the Portal series) allow Avatars to see themselves. Given that players may have personal preferences on what kind of view they may want to have or that some views are advantageous in some gameplay situations, it is quite common to provide players with a Freedom of Choice between First-Person Views and Third-Person Views (reasons why one may not want to let players have this freedom can be that it may ruin Surprises.

Two basic options exist for modifying First-Person Views. The first is Point of Interest Indications that can be used highlight things the diegetic character may notice, this both creates Player/Character Skill Composites and creates implied Characters (since perceptive abilities are abstract qualities of Characters).

Vision Modes

and the primary design choices for game designers involve choosing how players can control what they are viewing and if the presentation players are given uses human-like vision capabilities or augmented capabilities, such as infrared, radar, or night vision.

The basic use of First-Person Views is to provide players with presentations of Game Worlds. They can however also be used to provide Public Information focused upon specific parts of Game Worlds to Spectators and thereby make Spatial Engrossment possible for them as well.

Interface Aspects

First-Person Views is an Information Pattern. However, since First-Person Views do not provide Game State Overviews in the way Third-Person Views or God Views do, players are sometimes augmented with additional information through HUD Interfaces. This is typically Game State Indicators related to the Avatars themselves or the Characters linked to them, e.g. showing Health, selected Weapons, and so on, but can also be Mini-maps to provide spatial awareness.

The choice of Focus Loci can affect with types of views of Game Worlds are possible, so the design of First-Person Views should be done in relation to the design of a game's Focus Loci. For example, First-Person Views are not readily compatible with God Fingers.

Narrative Aspects

Games that wish to have Detective Structures can be aided by the use of First-Person Views since this makes the issue of what information players have access to the same as the issue of what the players' Avatars can perceive.


First-Person Views provide players with presentations of Game Worlds from the view point of their Avatars, meaning that they can only perceive that which they have Line of Sight to. The lack of being able to detect things behind Obstacles, etc., make First-Person Shooters be able to spring Surprises on players as well as maintain Detective Structures.

Since First-Person Views provide players with feedback similar to that receive when performing Movement in the real world, these views can support Spatial Engrossment in games, especially those that require Aim & Shoot or Maneuvering. When the option of switching between First-Person Views and Third-Person Views are given to players, this provides them with the Freedom of Choice of use the viewpoint they prefer or is most effective at any given point in the gameplay.


Can Instantiate

Detective Structures, Line of Sight, Spatial Engrossment, Surprises

with Point of Interest Indications

Characters, Player/Character Skill Composites

with Third-Person Views

Freedom of Choice

Can Modulate

Aim & Shoot, Avatars, Game Worlds, Maneuvering, Spectators

Can Be Instantiated By

Dedicated Game Facilitators, Live Action Roleplaying

Can Be Modulated By

HUD Interfaces, Point of Interest Indications, Vision Modes

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

God Fingers


An updated version of the pattern First-Person Views 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.