Friend Lists

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Lists maintained by games for individual players to help them.

Some games rely on players having explicit enumerations of which other players are able to help them or otherwise affect their gameplay. Others let players create enumerations of those they may want to play with and provide support to more easily find them and start new game instances. Both these design functions rely on Friend Lists, i.e. lists with the other players that a player has indicated can be important or relevant for their own gameplay.


Multiplayer games like the Quake series and the Battlefield series allow players to find their friend so they can either try to join the same game instances or together set up new game instances. Single player games such as Farmville or Candy Crush Saga also make use of Friend Lists by letting players be able to help or unlock things for each other.

Steam and Facebook provide Friend Lists which are not part of individual games but which individual games can access to use inside the games.

Using the pattern

Friend Lists are organizational tools that help players find their friends and information about them in Multiplayer Games or Massively Single-Player Online Games where players can or need to help each other. As such, they depend on a certain amount of infrastructure in the form of Meta Servers. Practical design considerations that need to be taken when designing Friend Lists include how people should be able to find each other, how friendships are suggested and confirmed, and if different levels of friendship can be indicated. While some games only allow players to invite people already playing the game to be on their Friend Lists, others support Invites to help players populate their lists (this is typically the case in Massively Single-Player Online Games where the help of other players is needed to progress).

The use of Friend Lists is typically to provide specialized versions of services that exist for all players but restricted them so they only apply to one's friends. Examples include only talking with one's friends on Chat Channels or Communication Channels, being able to find information more easily about one's friends on Global High Score Lists or Public Player Statistics, and easily setting up games with one's friends in Game Lobbies. Neighbors, a more specialized form of Friend Lists, is often used in Massively Single-Player Online Games, to let players that otherwise couldn't perform actions that influence each other. This includes Visits to their gameplay areas and the possibility of giving things from their Free Gift Inventories.

Friend Lists can be populated using Extra-Game Information from Friend Lists outside the game, for example Friend Lists on social media platforms such as Facebook or general gaming services like Steam.

Interface Aspects

Friend Lists is an Interface Pattern.


Friend Lists help games have Social Adaptability in that they have a larger Freedom of Choice in selecting what type of gameplay experience they will have (based on the assumption that they know how their friends play). This can let players increase their chances of having Togetherness through playing with others that they already have Mutual Experiences with. They are also possible to create new Mutual Experiences since they already have established relationships with those they are playing with and can easily contact each other after the game instance.

Quite naturally, Friend Lists work against anonymity in games. This means that Enforced Player Anonymity, Player Anonymity, and Possibility of Anonymity are all problematic to use together with Friend Lists. As a consequence of this, Friend Lists also make it more difficult for players to have Actor Detachment.


Can Instantiate

Freedom of Choice, Mutual Experiences, Social Adaptability, Togetherness

Can Modulate

Chat Channels, Communication Channels, Free Gift Inventories, Game Lobbies, Global High Score Lists, Massively Single-Player Online Games, Meta Servers, Multiplayer Games, Public Player Statistics, Visits

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Extra-Game Information, Invites

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Actor Detachment, Enforced Player Anonymity, Player Anonymity, Possibility of Anonymity


New pattern created in this wiki.