High Score Lists

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High Score lists give players the chance to rank how well the current game sessions compared to previous game sessions.


The first arcade game to have High Score Lists was [[Asteroids]. The player who achieves a high enough score compared to the other players of the same machine is allowed to enter his initials to be displayed in the High Score List.

Using the pattern

Text about what to think about when putting the pattern into a design, i.e. possible options. Have links to other patterns mentioned.

The sub headings below should be added if feasible.

Diegetic Aspects

High Score Lists are typically presented outside the gameplay and game world. This does not imply that they cannot be accessible during gameplay since they can be presented in a different section of the game interface or be accessible through Option Interfaces. The facebook version of the game Icy Tower shows one way which


What effects a patterns has on a design.



Player Defined Goals, Meta Games, Replayability, Trans-Game Information, Social Statuses, Tied Results


Instantiated By

Modulated By

Tiebreakers, Single-Player Games

Potentially Conflicting With

Using the pattern

The use of High Score Lists is fairly standardized, with the main design choices being the number of Scores saved in the High Score List and how Handles are supported. Most High Score Lists make use of Handles so that the players can identify their own scores and know that other players can recognize them. Since High Score Lists typically are ordered, they need Tiebreakers or have to be explicitly designed to allow several players with Tied Results to be displayed as completely equal.

The use of Ghosts can be seen as a form of High Score List that allows players to judge their progress against other performances, as well as their own individual performances, in previous game sessions while playing the game.


High Score Lists create a Meta Game out of the game by using Trans-Game Information, allowing players to have Player Defined Goals such as to rank themselves against previous achievements, and thereby encouraging Game Mastery. Doing so adds Replayability to the game, as the players have the additional goal of simply performing slightly better than in the previous game sessions. High Score Lists are also a simple way to introduce Competition to otherwise Single-Player Games and are also a way for players to compare and display their Social Statuses.


An rewrite of the original pattern named High Score Lists in the book 'Patterns in Game Design' (Björk & Holopainen, 2004).


Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.

Icy Tower facebook game