Game Items

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Diegetic objects in game worlds that can be carried or interacted with.

Game Items are objects in game worlds that players can picked up and carried by players' avatars or units. They can affect actions and attributes, and acquiring them or moving them to specific locations may be required to complete goals.


Game Items play larger roles in Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons and Dragons and GURPS, both as rewards and as ways of making player characters better. One evidence of their role is the fact that entire supplements or sourcebooks are dedicated to them[1][2][3][4][5][6].

LARPs also put much emphasis on Game Items. For games such as 1942 – Noen å stole på and Dragonbane, players need to put considerable effort and skill into producing the physical items and props that are to be used during the gaming events.

Adventure Games, e.g. the Zork series and Maniac Mansion, have much of their gameplay structured around the location of Game Items that then need to be used in specific places and context to advance in the games. Other computer games, e.g. Minecraft and Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress can contain large amounts of Game Items, mostly created by the players themselves.

For game examples of more specific types of Game Items, see the patterns Armor, Tools, and Weapons.

Using the pattern

Game Items are a type of Resources which differentiates itself from other Resources by each individual unit having its own identity and presence. General categories of Game Items include Armor for protecting against Damage, Tools for providing Improved or New Abilities, and Weapons for modifying Combat. These are all Equipment but Game Items providing passive benefits are other examples of Equipment. While these all provide or modify some gameplay functionality, Cosmetic Game Items and MacGuffins are examples of Game Items that can serve purposes in games without directly affecting gameplay.

There are some general considerations of how Game Items should be modeled in a game. They can have many various Attributes of which the most common are probably value (which makes all Game Items to a common type of Resource) and weight. Another is if they should be Destructible Objects through Deterioration; this is most common for Armor, Tools, and Weapons. Not all Game Items have tangible presences in Game Worlds, those that do are Diegetically Tangible Game Elements.

One aspect of Game Items is how they should be acquired. While some Game Items can be Rewards, e.g. after achievied Achievements or completing Quests, Game Items can also be Pick-Ups, i.e. existing as game elements in Game Worlds and Levels before being acquired, possible through appearing as Loot. Trading with other players, Non-Player Characters, or at Self-Service Kiosks, make it possible to make the acquisition of Game Items into Tradeoffs between these items and other Game Items or Resources. Another option is that the players can construct Game Items themselves through Crafting, as for example done in Minecraft or Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress. A final option, related to Crafting, is that the players create the items as Extra-Game Actions. These Player Created Game Elements are most commonly found in LARPs but can also be found in text-based MUDs (e.g. Kingdoms and DragonMud) where players can create the Game Worlds.

Game Items can be used as goal objects in Gain Ownership goals, especially if there is only one instance of a Game Item available and it is in a predetermined place. Once players can have Ownership of Game Items, other design options open up. Inventories allow for many Game Items to be carried and interacted with through Secondary Interface Screens. Having Equipable Items lets players choose which Game Items should be active or should provide New Abilities at any given point in time. Sets can be used to allow Combos to occur for having specific combinations of Game Items equipped. Upgrades allow players to modify the Improved Abilities of Game Items by Upgrading them through using other Game Items, this can be supported by Sockets.

For Multiplayer Games one can consider if Game Items are to be Transferable Items, and if so how this is controlled. Stealing is one option here, which adds Attention Demanding to those game elements holding them as well as Tension and possibly Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences. Otherwise, Ownership of Tools may simply be that no offensive Transfer of Control actions such as Stealing are possible but those holding Tools can either drop them or voluntary engage in Trading. Some games that wishes to make Transferable Items impossible (e.g. World of Warcraft) make the equipping of them into Irreversible Events.

Diegetic Aspects

Game Items is a diegetic pattern but Alien Space Bats may be used to introduce (at least initially) non-thematic Game Items, as for example the alien blasters in the Fallout series.

Narrative Aspects

Most types of Game Items can be used in Narration Structures, but MacGuffins are ones specifically used for this.


As mentioned above, Game Items are Resources. When Ownership is regulated the existence of Game Items open up for Transfer of Control and Collecting actions to achieve Gain Ownership goals. This may also open up for Competitions and Races if the location of the Game Items are known to the players. However, it may or may not be possible to drop or trade a Tool after it has been taken. If a Tool is dropped when an Avatar or Unit carrying it is killed or destroyed, or if Gain Ownership over other players Tools is supported in the game design, the presence of Tools promotes Competition even after the Tool has been acquired.

Several types of Game Items, especially Armor, Tools, and Weapons but also Equipment, offers a form of Character Development (and for Tools and Weapons the presence of Player/Character Skill Composites).


Can Instantiate

Character Development, Gain Ownership, Resources, Rewards

with Stealing

Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences, Attention Demanding, Tension

Can Modulate

Game Worlds, Levels

Can Be Instantiated By

Armor, Cosmetic Game Items, Equipment, MacGuffins, Player Created Game Elements, Tools, Weapons

Can Be Modulated By

Achievements, Attributes, Collecting, Crafting, Destructible Objects, Deterioration, Diegetically Tangible Game Elements, Equipable Items, Inventories, Loot, Ownership, Pick-Ups, Quests, Rewards, Sets, Sockets, Stealing, Trading, Transfer of Control, Transferable Items, Upgrades

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Official page for the Low-Tech sourcebook for GURPS.
  2. Official page for the High-Tech sourcebook for GURPS.
  3. Official page for the Ultra-Tech sourcebook for GURPS.
  4. Official page for the Bio-Tech sourcebook for GURPS.
  5. Official page for the Adventurer's Vault book for Dungeons & Dragons.
  6. Official page for the Adventurer's Vault 2 book for Dungeons & Dragons.