Gain Ownership

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

The one-sentence "definition" that should be in italics.

This pattern is a still a stub.

This is simply the goal to gain the ownership of a game element.

The goal of controlling a game element, either by possessing it or by controlling the use of it, is common to many games. The ownership may be a reason in itself (as for example controlling space in Go or controlling Flag points in Battlefield 1942), may be a requirement for completing a higher-Level goal, or may simply make it easier to complete various types of actions or goals.


Left 4 Dead series

Example: Weapons, ammunition, and power-ups are all examples of objectives for Gain Ownership goals in first-person shooters such as Quake, Unreal Tournament, or Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

Example: Othello (also called Reversi) has the goal of gaining ownership of a majority of the game pieces, and every turn in the game involves changes in ownership.



Using the pattern

Can Modulate


A classic example of Gain Ownership goals is capturing an opponent pieces, i.e. the use of Capture together with Transfer of Control. Chess and Go are examples of this. This example of Gain Ownership does not provide players with direct improvements to their game state but indirectly does this through weakening the opponent (but the placement or movement of pieces to perform the Capture can be lead in a direct improvement in the positioning of a player's pieces). In contrast, a potential reason for Gain Ownership goals can be that they provide Improved Abilities through Controllers, Equipment, Sets, Tools, or Vehicles (alternatively Gain Competence or New Abilities in the case of Tools). FPS Games such as the Quake series, the Unreal Tournament series, and the Wolfenstein series are examples of this through the Weapons, Ammunition, and Armor that can be picked up by players during gameplay.

Control of Territories can be the reason of Gain Ownership goals when linked with goals related to Area Control, Eliminate, Investments, or Transfer of Control. Another reason, related to controlling Territories, occurs when the ownership is tied to Area Control and controlling an area means the fulfillment of reaching a Check Point - the Team Fortress series provides an example of this through that the starting bases for the attacking side moves as that side gains control over specific parts of a map. Another related example is games where players compete on being the King of the Hill; having this position typically requires succeeding on a Gain Ownership goal.

A reason for Gain Ownership goals which doesn't need to be linked to Conflict is that of gaining access to Clues in games with Predetermined Story Structures where the development of the story relies on getting said Clues. More abstract reasons - which can be tied to Conflict or not - include gaining access to Controllers, completting Sets, holding Strategic Locations, or first gaining control of an object so that it can then be what is transported as part of a Delivery goal. Games with Indirect Control have built-in opportunities of Gain Ownership goals in that (at least some) ownership in the game is weakly enforced by game rules and thereby open up for players to compete regarding the control.

Examples of the specific targets of Gain Ownership goals include Area Control, Bases, Conditional Passageways, Equipment, Game Items, MacGuffins, Pick-Ups, Props, Resource Locations, Tools, Transferable Items, Units, and Vehicles. Which of these are suitable for specific games depend both on the theme and specific gameplay structure but also on which of the reasons discussed above give the motivation for the Gain Ownership goals.

Ways of enabling players to achieve Gain Ownership goals include Connection, Contact, and Overcome. Gain Information can also support the success of Gain Ownership by revealing the location of the target for the goal - either by making it easier or more efficient to do (if the Gain Ownership goal could found by other means) or by making the Gain Information a necessary requirement. The latter can for example suit games with Predetermined Story Structures where finding a Clue triggers events that automatically lead to the player to Gain Ownership over something. Related to what makes it possible for players to achieve Gain Ownership goals is what makes it difficult. Knowledge about something's existence or location is one reason, but others include that they are already owned by Enemies, Factions, Units, or other players that oppose the goal. Internal Rivalry allows these options to apply to players' own Factions or Teams with the dilemmas that this causes. While the use of Enemies, Factions, or Units provides an aspect of Conflict to the Gain Ownership goals this may be avoidable through letting successful Stealth goals enable the ownership goals. This may be an additional way of succeeding with a Gain Ownership goal or the only way possible in which case the Enemies, etc., are rendered to a more thematic or supportive role.

Can Be Modulated By

Betting, Bidding, Enclosure, Game Element Trading, Chargers, Goal Points, Red Herrings, Renewable Resources, Resource Generators, Score

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narration Aspects


Quite naturally, the presence of Gain Ownership goals in a game affect Ownership in that game and games with Resource Management are affected by Gain Ownership goals directly or indirectly connected to Resources (gaining control of Resource Locations is an example of an indirect connection).

The presence of Gain Ownership goals typically give rise to Conflict and Tension. This is especially true if other players have the ownership and in these cases Emotional Engrossment is also likely. If the contests object or area can be hidden, current owners may take on Conceal goals to hinder ownership changing hands. Gain Ownership goals also can provide player-chosen Betting goals or be the basis for system-specified Betting goals.

Successes with Gain Ownership goals give rise to Transfer of Control events whenever there exists an identifiable previous owner. Other typical effects can be Expansion, fulfillment of a Collection, or the completion of a Quest. When the ownership of an object or area give access to new information, e.g. texts in a book, this can support the completion of Gain Information goals.


Can Instantiate

Betting, Collection, Conceal, Conflict, Delivery, Emotional Engrossment, Expansion, Gain Information, King of the Hill, Quests, Stealth, Tension, Transfer of Control

Can Modulate

Configuration, Ownership, Resource Management

Can Be Instantiated By

Area Control, Bases, Conditional Passageways, Connection, Contact, Controllers, Enemies, Equipment, Factions, Game Items, Gain Information, Indirect Control, Internal Rivalry, MacGuffins, Overcome, Pick-Ups, Props, Resource Locations, Sets, Strategic Locations, Tools, Transferable Items, Units, Vehicles

Capture together with Transfer of Control

Check Points together with Area Control

Gain Competence together with Tools

Improved Abilities together with Controllers, Equipment, Sets, Tools, or Vehicles

New Abilities together with Tools

Predetermined Story Structures together with Clues

Territories together with Area Control, Eliminate, Investments, or Transfer of Control

Can Be Modulated By

Betting, Bidding, Enclosure, Game Element Trading, Chargers, Goal Points, Red Herrings, Renewable Resources, Resource Generators, Score

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Gain Ownership 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.