The goal to gain the ownership of a game element.
Gain Ownership is the goal of controlling a game element, either by possessing it or by controlling the use of it. 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.
Chess and Go are ancient examples of Gain Ownership goals to take opponent pieces. Othello (also called Reversi) has a similar goal in that one wants to have ownership of a majority of the game pieces, but in this game every turn in the game requires a change in ownership so the Gain Ownership goal becomes one of identifying which Gain Ownership goal is the best to succeed with. Chess and Go can be argued to be weak examples of Gain Ownership in that players' cannot make any use of captured pieces - Go can make a somewhat stronger claim in that captured pieces represent points for the final scoring of a game instance.
FPS Games such as the Quake series and the Left 4 Dead series connect Gain Ownership goals to the weapons, ammunition, and power-ups that exist in these games. Team-based variants of the genres, e.g. the Battlefield series and the Team Fortress series, tie Gain Ownership goals controlling specific areas of the game. RTS Games such as the Starcraft series and such as the Defense of the Ancients series also provide goals related to controlling locations in the games - either to have control over resources or more directly provide points needs to win a game.
Using the pattern
A classic example of Gain Ownership goals is capturing an opponent's pieces, i.e., the use of Capture together with Transfer of Control or achieving a certain Configuration. 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). Tied to these examples are the case if Gain Ownership gives continued control of those pieces or rather removes the pieces from gameplay through Game Element Removal. For Chess it can be argued that one doesn't actually gain control of captured pieces while in Go they only function as Victory Point tokens. Whether to describe a specific game system as having Gain Ownership, Game Element Removal, or Game Ownership that immediately causes Game Element Removal may depend on theme, narration, or rule wording.
In contrast, a potential reason for Gain Ownership goals can be that they provide simply increase players' Score, 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, completing Sets, holding Strategic Locations, or first gaining control of an object so that it can then be what is transported as part of a Deliver 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, Enclosure, Overcome, and winning Betting activities. 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 be 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. Trading and Bidding support other ways of enabling Gain Ownership while avoiding or lessening conflict; Game Element Trading supports this for targets of Gain Ownership where ownership outside gameplay is important.
Gain Ownership goals can be modified through providing many different types or game objects or game areas to fulfill the one and same Gain Ownership goal, or by providing many identical copies of the same game object or game area. The existence of Renewable Resources or Resource Generators related to Gain Ownership objectives can make these easier in the sense that it strongly implies that there will exist many identical copies. Red Herrings can be seen as a variant of this since they seem to be things that fulfill the goal but actually don't. If only the Red Herrings are known to players, this can prolong the time it takes to succeed the goal or make it generally more difficult.
While increasing players' Scores can be the main motivation for Gain Ownership goals, they can also be used to provide a supporting reason for the goals when short-term consequences of success main more strongly affect players' behavior. This can include negatively affecting players' Scores as a way to make Gain Ownership goals less attractive or to provide a dilemma for players. Another way to increase the importance of Gain Ownership goals is to connect voluntary or mandatory Betting to the outcome.
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 Be Instantiated By
Area Control, Bases, Conditional Passageways, Connection, Contact, Controllers, Enclosure, Enemies, Equipment, Factions, Game Items, Gain Information, Indirect Control, Internal Rivalry, MacGuffins, Overcome, Pick-Ups, Props, Resource Locations, Score, Sets, Strategic Locations, Tools, Transferable Items, Units, Vehicles
Can Be Modulated By
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.
- Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.