Difference between revisions of "Freedom of Choice"

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==== with [[Abstract Player Constructs]] and [[Abstract Player Construct Development]] ====
==== with [[Abstract Player Constructs]] and [[Abstract Player Construct Development]] ====
[[Player-Planned Development]]
[[Investments]], [[Player-Planned Development]]
==== with [[Characters]] ====
==== with [[Characters]] ====

Revision as of 08:27, 27 August 2021

The freedom to choose between several different actions or choices which all seem meaningful.

It has been can argue that for a game to be a game at all, the players have to be able to make what they feel are interesting choices. For example the quote attributed to Sid Meier's "a good game is a series of interesting choices" argues this, as does the definitions of game from Costikyan where player make decisions[1] and Abt where players are independent decision-makers[2]. This means that the choices must have seemingly different effects and have effects that are meaningful. If these conditions are met, players can feel that they have the Freedom of Choice within the game system and they can affect the outcome of the game.

However, what constitutes interesting choices can vary between people. It can seem that there are no choices in some goal-oriented activity requiring skills, e.g. solving puzzles or participating in some sports, but this is a matter of perspective. Choosing strategies for how to lay a puzzle can be seen as an interesting choice if one is aware of the different strategies. The same applies to many sports, including sprint races and weight-lifting, besides the different strategies one can use while training. Similarly some games, e.g. Tic-Tac-Toe, provides several choices of where to place one's tokens which may seem meaningful for a novice player but becomes less so for somebody that has explored the whole possibility space of the game. Thus, Freedom of Choice of a game always needs to be considered in relation to the intended players.


No Thanks! only provides two possible actions to a player when it is his or her turn but still maintains a Freedom of Choice since the choice between the actions are in nearly all cases important.

The board game Puerto Rico and the card game Race for the Galaxy not only provide each player the choice of what action to perform during a turn of the game; the other players also get to perform each others' actions and thereby get more opportunities to make decisions.

Open-ended games like the Sims series provide players with a multitude of game elements to interact with and many types of actions for each game element. In addition, they give players the freedom to define their own goals within the game.

Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS allow players a huge variety of choices since all actions are judge by a game master that on the fly can allow or disallow actions depending on how well they fit the diegesis and the character's abilities and personality.

Using the pattern

Freedom of Choice can be achieved within three different areas in relation to games. First, players may have choices to do with what rules and players should be part of gameplay. Second, they may have choices on which actions to perform as part of the gameplay to affect the outcome of the game. Third, they may have choices to engage in other types of activities while the gameplay progresses. An important aspect of designing for Freedom of Choice in gameplay is to be aware that the allowing players several different ways of affect game states in not the most critical issue; it is that they perceive that they have it. This makes the options of Exaggerated Perception of Influence and Determinable Chance to Succeed important considerations for the pattern to appear. It is also worth considering that even if a game may wish to have Freedom of Choice this can be centered on specific moments in the game rather than be spread throughout the gameplay.

Besides the option to play or not, which is explored in September 12th, and when to play, which 4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness explores, the highest level of abstraction where players can have a Freedom of Choice is regarding which players and rules a specific game instance should have. Games with Social Adaptability can provide this freedom in a number of ways but other patterns can more specifically provide Freedom of Choice. Regarding rules, it is possible to consider all games of having flexible rules when considering gaming rules[3], but games can be specifically designed to support choices of rules before gameplay begins. This can be done by Player Decided Rule Setup or Game Masters to provide a wide possibility space of which rule set to use while Optional Rules can offers Boolean choices regarding specific rules. Games with Game Masters or other Self-Facilitated Games provide the additional opportunity of being able to change rules during games, but this can also be found in a few games that include rules for how to change or include more rules during gameplay, e.g. Nomic and common version of Quarters. Although only modifying value in the game state or rule set instead of changing the rules, Difficulty Levels can be considered another way of providing choices of how the gameplay will develop before a game starts.

While which players participate in games played face-to-face can be handled through ordinary social interaction, Game Lobbies can let players of online game only let their friends or specially invited players participate. Player Kicking through Voting can let players start gaming with strangers and remove the ones that do not adhere to the majority's view of how a game should be played.

Moving away from choices of rules, players can have a Freedom of Choice in the possibility to spend time considering interesting choices and strategies before gameplay. This is found in classical board games such as Chess and Go, where studying opening sequences and maneuvers such as forking (in Chess) and ladders (in Go) is relevant for future gameplay. In these cases it is voluntary if one wants to make choices related to the game (e.g. choosing to test a certain first series of moves if possible) before the gameplay begins, but in other games one must make decisions before the game can begin. Roleplaying systems such as GURPS and Dungeons & Dragons have Initial Personalization in that they require players to make Player-Created Characters in the set-up phase of game sessions and these typically require many choices related to Attributes, Equipment, Skills, and Powers of their Characters (these choices can be avoided by using pre-generated Characters or using Randomness, but doing so is a choice in itself). Freedom of Choice can through Characters either make Role Fulfillment due to players being able to creates these roles themselves or modulate that pattern by letting players choose between different roles to fulfill based on which Characters they chose (Freedom of Choice can also indirectly support this through letting players have Initial Personalization of their Characters). Games with No Direct Player Influence, e.g. Crobots and Progress Quest, takes this to the logical extreme, in which players create their robots or characters and then have no direct interaction with the system during the gameplay (this means that No Direct Player Influence is in conflict with Freedom of Choice for actual gameplay). In contrast, games that have Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership, e.g. Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer 40K, require players to make decisions on what game elements they own to bring to the game since the game cannot be played without those elements. Players may also have choices regarding the diegetic representations they control in the game, see Diegetic Aspects. Zero-Player Games take the idea of making interesting choices before the game session is initiated to its logical extreme; one cannot (or do not need to) make any actions once the game has begun so it is in one sense in conflict with the Freedom of Choice pattern while not in another sense.

Related to the issue of choices before gameplay begins is the design on when it is possible to interact with the game. For Single-Player Games this is usually in the players' control modulated by their context when one wants to play (although connectivity can affect certain Trans-Game Information and thereby Global High Score Lists and Massively Single-Player Online Games). Looking more specifically on ongoing gameplay, Interruptibility can be provided through Game Pauses so they have the opportunity to decide when to take breaks while Save-Load Cycles allow players to return to game states even after the underlying platform has been turned of in the intermediate time period. Multiplayer Games require players to find each other and agree to play, but online games can support this through Friend Lists and Game Lobbies and the presence of the Late Arriving Players pattern allows a greater individual Freedom of Choice regarding this. Persistent Game Worlds allow players to join at any time, and in one sense all participants in such games are Late Arriving Players, but all types of actual gameplay may not be available at all times (e.g. doing larger raids in Instances of World of Warcraft require coordination with other players). However, when playing with others the options for when not to interact with the game (and other players) becomes more delicate since it may be disrupt Team Balance or may be perceived as Analysis Paralysis. Tick-Based Games address this by giving players a certain span of time during which they can do their actions, not only letting players know how often they should do something in the game but also when the game will be updated. By setting the time period sufficiently large compared to the time it takes to make the gameplay actions, players can have a bounded freedom of when to play without disrupting gameplay for the other players. Games with Drop-In/Drop-Out instead make it possible for players to close their game sessions while leaving other players' gameplay unaffected, typically through use of Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment or AI Players; this may also happen in games with Asynchronous Gameplay. Those with Casual Gameplay are already constructed to avoid the problem of putting players in a responsibility towards other players, so these provide this type of Freedom of Choice by design.

Looking only at how players can have Freedom of Choice regarding gameplay with fixed rules, this can be achieved in several ways: affecting the actions possible for the players through giving them Abilities, letting players affect the results in the game, and letting players choose goals. For games with Turn Taking, the additional option is added of letting players affect the turns to create Varying Turn Orders. An obvious way to increase the Freedom of Choice in a game is to expand the range of possible actions players' can perform. This can be done from the beginning of the game by choosing from the wide range of possible actions in a game (e.g. Aim & Shoot, Betting, Bidding, Collecting, Combat, Construction, Maneuvering, Movement, Negotiation, and Trading) but having the possibility to not doing anything, doing No-Ops, is also a choice. Although motivated by Limited Resources, Resource Management gives players opportunities of how to use Resources, including No-Ops, by saving them in Containers and creating other types of Resources through Converters. When players have several different game elements to chosen from, Game Element Insertion can be a source of Freedom of Choice related to Resource Management and similar issues can exist in choosing between different types of Ammunition or redistributing Transferable Items between Player Characters and Companions. Producers can also be a source of Freedom of Choice - what Units, Tools, or Resources to produce, and when to do so. The type of Investments that give players the greatest Freedom of Choice are following Arithmetic Progression, since they does not give any Penalties or disadvantages between making one large Investment or several smaller ones. Having Units is in one sense a trivial way to provide more Freedom of Choice, this since a player can make more choices than if he or she only controls one unit, i.e. an Avatar. Having different Competence Areas for different types of Units - or Characters - further provides a larger set of actions possible.

For the reason of wishing to have Smooth Learning Curves, the number of options is often increased gradually in Single-Player Games through Facilitating Rewards or Access Rewards (it should be noted that Facilitating Rewards also can work against Freedom of Choice is players have no choice in what is facilitated). This can be done implicitly through Improved Abilities and explicitly through New Abilities and is often represented as Abstract Player Construct Development or Character Development. In contrast, Multiplayer Games, including multiplayer versions of Single-Player Games but not Massively Multiplayer Online Games, typically provide all actions available at once to maintain Player Balance. Controllers and Tools can however be used in both cases since the New Abilities are then provided through gaining ownership of Game Items or acquiring Area Control. That being said, Character Development can provide Freedom of Choice in which Skills or Powers to develop as can the possibilities of applying Upgrades (perhaps into Sockets). While Freedom of Choice together with Character Development can make Characters become Player-Created Characters as gameplay progresses, Freedom of Choice regarding the creation of Characters let players have greater agency through having Initial Personalization of the Characters before gameplay begins (this may work against Smooth Learning Curves though).

The number of actions available may however not be meaningful, and therefore not provide a interesting Freedom of Choice if there are not different Risk/Rewards associated to them. The game No Thanks! shows this in having important Freedom of Choice situations where the only options consists of performing one action or taking a No-Ops. The use of Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences can be used to add a social dimension to actions and thereby let players have a Freedom of Choice of how they should be perceived based upon which actions there are willing to perform. Simply being able to drop Game Items can provide a Freedom of Choice since this can let players create Traces. Budgeted Action Points are a way to increase the Freedom of Choice existing in possible actions not only by in most cases making players be able to do several actions in on turn but letting them choose in which order to do those actions as well; using Role Selection or Token Placement specifically for this often gives a bit more freedom since the actual execution of the chosen actions may be done in several different ways.

Freedom of Choice can also be expanded by offering several variations of the same action to players. One generic way of doing this is through Extended Actions, giving players control over how long time they wish to continue doing the action, while another is providing Location-Fixed Abilities when players have control over their Movement (Location-Fixed Abilities can also provide new actions which also increases the Freedom of Choice. More specific examples include having a variety of Equipment, (e.g. Weapons or Tools) or spells to use when performing Aim & Shoot, being able to do Maneuvering at different speeds, performing Movement normally or through Quick Travel, having access to Warp Zones, and choosing where Spawning occurs. Sidegrades are specific new options introduce in games that not explicitly provide clear advantages but give players a greater Freedom of Choice which can in turn lead to gameplay advantages. Related to the issue of providing new actions is the possibility of providing elements in Game Worlds to increase tactical options. If players are able to detect Enemies first, they have the choice of avoiding them (which can also be seen as providing the Optional Goal of Stealth) or whom to attack first. Likewise, Alarms and Traps may not only be hazards to the players' Avatars or Units but may also be used again Enemies directly or as distractions. One aspect of offering variations to the same action concerns Movement and the size of Game Worlds. Large Game Worlds that can be freely explored, either by being Procedurally Generated Game Worlds (such as Minecraft) or the ongoing creations of Game Masters, can provide players significant Freedom of Choice and set of Game World Exploration goals simply because the possibility to explore exists. Providing an Illusion of Open Space, e.g. through Invisible Walls, can works as a substitute but risks backfiring to reveal to players that they do not have the Freedom of Choice they first thought they had. Related to this is the option of providing players with several different Levels, and let them choose which to enter.

Actions in games lead to different types of events, and letting players choose what events these are is another form of Freedom of Choice. Player Decided Results and Player-Decided Distributions are generic ways of doing this while choosing between several different results of Randomness can be used in some situations. Extra Chances and Game Time Manipulation are specific game mechanic ways of providing options of Reversibility to avoid a unwanted result, found for example in Bloodbowl and Braid respectively, while Save-Load Cycles do this generally. Explicit Random Seeds gives players a Freedom of Choice to use Randomness or not to create the starting positions of a game. While Extra Chances in this case also supports Misfortune Mitigation, Freedom of Choice case in itself provide this when it allows players to choose in which order to make actions that depend on Randomness (Bloodbowl is an example of this).

Ways of letting players have increased Freedom of Choice of what to do is to let them choose goals. Games can force players to make choices regarding how to try achieving some types of goals while others can be voluntary to strive towards. Games requiring Tactical Planning makes it necessary for players to consider the different actions available and this is also present is games which require Game World Navigation or have several different possible routes (i.e. a Selectable Set of Goals) for Traverse goals, all which are benefited from Perfect Information. Allowing some more Freedom of Choice, game designers can control the goals available in the game through a Selectable Set of Goals which allows players to choose goals but only from a pre-determined collection; this allows for a form of Player-Defined Goals but more open versions of this requires Game Masters or Self-Facilitated Games. Optional Goals such as Sidequests in contrast give players' the Freedom of Choice to pursue them or not. Specific examples of this include trying to gain Alliances in Multiplayer Games, providing Achievements that can be collected, providing Ephemeral Goals through out game sessions, and allowing Player-Planned Development. The last pattern of these is a natural consequence of allowing Freedom of Choice regarding Gain Competence goals or specifics related to receiving Improved or New Abilities. Further, it follows naturally when players have a Freedom of Choice regarding how Abstract Player Construct Development and Character Development should occur (for Abstract Player Constructs or Characters respectively). Bag Management, Card Building, and Deck Building are examples of such development. Pre-Customized Decks is similar but lets this take place before gameplay. Any game which gives Creative Control to players, e.g. through Player Created Game Elements, can likewise be seen as giving them Freedom of Choice in choosing Optional Goals. Purchasable Game Advantages provides another avenue for Freedom of Choice related to goals - players can immediately fulfill them by paying for it with real world money.

Freedom of Choice is not only an effect of how many choices are available at any given moment, but also on how important the decision between those choices is for the future gameplay. If a choice is to make an action which can easily be undone immediately by the player or negated by another player, that choice is likely to not affect the gameplay significantly in the long term and is therefore not really a choice. Making actions cause Irreversible Events is one way to do this, and one example of how this can done is through the ko and superko rule of Go, which make immediate or any repetition of past game state impossible, and thereby guarantee that each action has meaning. Hands that contain game elements that enable or embody actions give players a Freedom of Choice since they have several different actions to choose from and may also be able to save actions for later; Drafting, and especially when done through Drafting Spreads, offers players a choice between several different actions, roles, or game elements but those not chosen are then made available to other players. How actions affect future gameplay of course dependent on context, for example in games with Emergent Gameplay an action that is typically not significant can become very much so in special conditions. Similarly, games where players have explicit choices of how to explore Predetermined Story Structures can be very important since they do not know how the story will unfold but have desires how it should unfold and have assumptions on what effects the choices will have. However, unless there is Randomness involved in the process, after a certain branch in the story has been explored players know exactly what will happen and the series of choices building that branch becomes meaningless except for wanting to re-experience the narration. The same problem occurs with games which allow Gameplay Mastery since only some actions may be interesting for skilled players, so to maintaining Freedom of Choice in these games may require other types of freedoms, e.g. Achievements or Roleplaying.

Another way to increase the Freedom of Choice is to allow players to perform other actions than the ones directly related to gameplay. Performing Extra-Game Actions such as Negotiation, Roleplaying, Social Interaction, or Storytelling is one way to do this. Red Herrings can introduce additional alternatives to players even if they in hindsight were unnecessary for gameplay progression. Pervasive Gameplay offers another possibility, that of being able to do non-gameplay related activities at the same time as playing the game, which naturally may be important for pervasive games but also for live-action roleplaying games.

Since too much Freedom of Choice can lead to Analysis Paralysis, it may also be relevant to limit the number of choices available, which can be done in several ways. Limited Planning Ability lessens players' freedom to make long-term plans in a game while Predefined Goals may force players to have certain goals and tactics in a game. Enforced Agent Behavior and Ultra-Powerful Events may dictate relations with NPCs, typically impose Predetermined Story Structures and cause Shrinking Game Worlds. Inaccessible Areas and Movement Limitations can hinder players from moving within whole Game Worlds. What players can do in the game may be defined as a Limited Set of Actions or require commitment to Extended Actions or Collaborative Actions, and these actions may further be restricted by Decreased Abilities and Ability Losses during gameplay. Enforced No-Ops also limit Freedom of Choice but are more often used as Penalties than as ways of modulating the level of freedom since No-Ops are binary in their effect.

Games can also provide Freedom of Choice after gameplay has finished. One way, which is common in racing games such as the Need for Speed series and fighting games such as the Tekken series, is to allow players to view Replays to support Bragging or Strategic Planning for the next game. Games that support Strategic Planning can encourage this further through letting players of a specific game instance have Perfect Information or God Views so they can study it to draw conclusions on how to play next time; something which can be especially valuable if the game had Asymmetric Information during gameplay. This feature is available for free in non-mediated Self-Facilitated Games but can also be supported in mediated games through Free Game Element Manipulation. Another design possibility is to allow players to send Trans-Game Information after some particular gameplay has finished. Two examples of this is allowing the sharing of Player Created Game Elements, e.g. Levels, or Replays. These can often be achieved by dedicated players regardless of the design, e.g. through using third-party level editors or simply videotaping the gameplay, but designers have the option to support these features within the game (as for example the Advance Wars series for Levels as Player Created Game Elements, Battlefield 2 for Replays, and the Sims series for both).

Internal Conflicts are a way of modifying Freedom of Choice so that it is bounded and ensure that at least some action or goal is selected.

In Single-Player Games, Sanctioned Cheating can increase Freedom of Choice since players can be given access to new actions as well as not being limited to Resources or activities based on lack of resources.

The removal of Freedom of Choice can occur for several different reasons. Repetitive Gameplay is a general reason for it since even if one might have freedom to choice actions these choices will be repeated so there isn't a Freedom of Choice on the larger scale. In Multiplayer Games that are also Turn-Based it is a necessity due to the existence of Downtime and this is typically accepted on fairness grounds (as long as Analysis Paralysis doesn't occur). Other typical reasons include the need for Excise to update the game state or Cutscenes to advance in Predetermined Story Structures - Scripted Information Sequences provides an alternative to the latter and can barely support a Freedom of Choice through the possibility took look at other parts of aGame World instead of an animation. Action Caps provide controlled forms of letting players choose to do several actions but not unrestrictedly so - but can also be used to add Freedom of Choice through the possibility of additional limited sets of actions (e.g. the 'command points' used in Space Hulk). Shrinking Game Worlds can limit players' Freedom of Choice more and more as gameplay progresses but may do so to guarantee Time Limited Game Instances. Handicap Systems may remove Freedom of Choice but may just as well add it.

Diegetic Aspects

From a representational point of view, many games let players do Avatar Personalization and customize their Handles through Naming to change how they will appear to themselves and other players. This Freedom of Choice can help Coordination through Diegetically Outstanding Features and may be needed to High Score Lists to be meaningful, but also provides a Possibility of Anonymity. This is typically part of Initial Personalization but can be possible during gameplay also, and can in the latter case either be unrelated to the game state or part of the game mechanics. For example, in the Sims series the players' own sims appearance can be changed during any point of the gameplay while in Fallout 3 changes in hair styles are done by visiting certain establishments and more radical changes in facial characteristics is part of the Rewards for solving a specific mission (in the latter example the Freedom of Choice regarding Avatar Personalization maintains the Thematic Consistency).

Interface Aspects

Since all actions players can do in a game needs to be accessible through its interface, a game with more Freedom of Choice requires more extensive interface and thereby makes it more difficult to make it easy to use. An exception to this is games with Self-Facilitated Games with Game Masters such as Roleplaying games since the Game Masters can on the fly interpret the actions players wishes to perform.

However, Freedom of Choice can be instantiated by providing players with options on how to view Game Worlds. The most common way to do this is through providing both First-Person Views and Third-Person Views that players can switch between as they prefer, another is to let players have control over the Cameras used to present Third-Person Views or God Views.

Narrative Aspects

Besides the problems of having Predetermined Story Structures co-existing with Freedom of Choice on a gameplay level, the more Freedom of Choice exists that effects the narration of a game the more resources need to be devoted to that narration. This issue becomes more pronounced when more players can take part of the game, i.e. having Multiplayer Games causes even more problems with having Predetermined Story Structures and Freedom of Choice together since different players can try to move the narration in different directions.


Freedom of Choice lets players plan their actions and thereby often gives them Player Agency. It often promotes Stimulated Planning, either Tactical Planning during gameplay or Strategic Planning before and after. As one example, Freedom of Choice in conjunction with Abstract Player Construct Development or Character Development leads to additional freedom regarding Player-Planned Development. The planning typically requires that the players imagines themselves as playing which provides Engrossment, especially Cognitive Engrossment but also Emotional Engrossment since Freedom of Choice gives players Empowerment. Freedom of Choice is a requirement for Framed Freedom but can fail to deliver this is players feel a pressure to choose between the possible options. Being able to choose between different actions or goals can support Varied Gameplay if the actions require different skill sets or make it possible to create different strategies. When the Freedom of Choice causes players to have Asymmetric Abilities, it can promote Replayability of the game.

The presence of Freedom of Choice can also have negative connotations for players, in the form of Social Dilemmas and forcing them to make Trade-Offs and Risk/Reward choices. This occurs when all choices have some negative effects associated with them, regardless of their positive effects. Regardless of any negative effect on the game state of a player, Freedom of Choice in Multiplayer Games can cause Analysis Paralysis if they are also Turn-Based, and thereby still have effects which are experienced as negative by others players.

Players' Freedom of Choice can affect their Determinable Chance to Succeed with actions both positively and negatively; while having many possible actions and seeing how they can lead to a goal leads to an increased perception of how likely one is to succeed, having many choices without clear views on how they can directly help one pursue a goal can instead be confusing. Similarly, the possibility to make choices can effect Exaggerated Perception of Influence and works against Helplessness. Having more choices is an easy way to make it at least seem as one has greater possibilities to help shape the outcome of the gameplay, but even gamebooks[4], which have Predetermined Story Structures and very limited choices, provide a sense of influence the first time a certain story structure is explored since readers can have goals on how the story should unfold.

Asymmetric Goals are the typical effect of allowing players the Freedom of Choice to choose goals in Multiplayer Games.


Can Instantiate

Asymmetric Goals, Cognitive Engrossment, Determinable Chance to Succeed, Emotional Engrossment, Empowerment, Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Engrossment, Framed Freedom, Misfortune Mitigation, Player Agency, Producers, Replayability, Risk/Reward, Social Dilemmas, Strategic Planning, Stimulated Planning, Tactical Planning, Trade-Offs, Units, Varied Gameplay

with Abstract Player Constructs and Abstract Player Construct Development

Investments, Player-Planned Development

with Characters

Initial Personalization

with Characters and Character Development

Player-Created Characters, Player-Planned Development

with Gain Competence, Improved Abilities, or New Abilities

Player-Planned Development

with Multiplayer Games and Turn-Based Games

Analysis Paralysis

with Single-Player Games

Smooth Learning Curves

Can Modulate

Abstract Player Construct Development, Attributes, Avatars, Avatar Personalization, Character Development, Characters, Equipment, Extended Actions, Powers, Predetermined Story Structures, Randomness, Skills, Spawning, Units

with Characters

Role Fulfillment

with Turn Taking

Varying Turn Orders

Can Be Instantiated By

Abilities, Access Rewards, Achievements, Action Caps, Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences, Aim & Shoot, Alarms, Alliances, Ammunition, Arithmetic Progression, Bag Management, Betting, Bidding, Asynchronous Gameplay, Budgeted Action Points, Cameras, Card Building, Casual Gameplay, Character Creation, Collecting, Combat, Competence Areas, Construction, Controllers, Creative Control, Difficulty Levels, Deck Building, Drafting, Drafting Spreads, Enemies, Equipment, Explicit Random Seeds, Extra-Game Actions, Extra Chances, Facilitating Rewards, Free Game Element Manipulation, Friend Lists, Gain Competence, Game Element Insertion, Game Items, Game Lobbies, Game Masters, Game Pauses, Game Time Manipulation, Game World Navigation, Handles, Hands, Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership, Illusion of Open Space, Interruptibility, Investments, Invisible Walls, Late Arriving Players, Levels, Location-Fixed Abilities, Maneuvering, Movement, Multiplayer Games, Naming, Negotiation, No-Ops, Optional Goals, Optional Rules, Persistent Game Worlds, Pervasive Gameplay, Player Created Game Elements, Player Decided Results, Player Decided Rule Setup, Player-Decided Distributions, Player-Defined Goals, Pre-Customized Decks, Purchasable Game Advantages, Quick Travel, Red Herrings, Replays, Resource Management, Reversibility, Risk/Reward, Role Selection, Roleplaying, Save-Load Cycles, Scripted Information Sequences, Selectable Set of Goals, Self-Facilitated Games, Sidegrades, Sidequests, Social Adaptability, Social Interaction, Sockets, Storytelling, Tick-Based Games, Token Placement, Tools, Trading, Transferable Items, Trans-Game Information, Traps, Upgrades, Warp Zones, Weapons

Drop-In/Drop-Out together with Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment or AI Players

Ephemeral Goals together with Optional Goals

First-Person Views together with Third-Person Views

Player Kicking together with Voting

Sanctioned Cheating together with Single-Player Games

Selectable Set of Goals together with Traverse

Single-Player Games together with Game Pauses or Turn-Based Games

Can Be Modulated By

Ability Losses, Collaborative Actions, Decreased Abilities, Determinable Chance to Succeed, Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Extended Actions, God Views, Handicap Systems, Improved Abilities, Inaccessible Areas, Internal Conflicts, Irreversible Events, Limited Planning Ability, Movement Limitations, New Abilities, Perfect Information, Predefined Goals, Ultra-Powerful Events

Potentially Conflicting With

Action Caps, Cutscenes, Downtime, Enforced Agent Behavior, Excise, Facilitating Rewards, Gameplay Mastery, Helplessness, Illusion of Open Space, Invisible Walls, No-Ops, No Direct Player Influence, Predetermined Story Structures, Repetitive Gameplay, Shrinking Game Worlds, Zero-Player Games

Multiplayer Games which are also Turn-Based Games or have Predetermined Story Structures

Smooth Learning Curves when Freedom of Choice is used together with Player-Created Characters


An updated version of the pattern Freedom of Choice that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[5].


  1. Costikyan, G. (2005). I Have No Words & I Must Design: Toward a Critical Vocabulary for Games. Proceedings of Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference, ed. Frans Mäyrä. Tampere University Press
  2. Serious Games, Viking Press, 1970, p. 6, ISBN 0670634905.
  3. Sjöblom, B. (2008). The Relevance of Rules: Negotiations and Accounts in Co-operative and Co-located Computer Gaming. Proceedings of the [player] conference, IT University of Copenhagen, August 26-29, 2008, pp. 335-378.
  4. Wikipedia entry entry for gamebooks.
  5. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.