Hovering Closures

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Events that are about to occur and can clearly be observed by players.

Most games put players in situation where they can clearly see that a future or ongoing activity can have a specific outcomes, either good or bad. Being able to perceive these outcomes, or closures, make them into Hovering Closures.


Both Chess and Go allow players to experience Hovering Closures by deducting series of future moves. Go is noteworthy in that if both players perceive situations the same they may ignore or wait resolving the sequences of game actions in order to focus on other parts of the game board.

Auctions in games are examples of Hovering Closures where one outcome is clearly perceived by the players, but this outcome can be changed by additional bids. Examples of games in which these can be found include Amun-Re, Homesteaders, and Power Grid.

Leaving an opening for specific blocks in Tetris create strong Hovering Closures.

Races with finishing lines, for example Formula D Hare and Tortoise, and the Mario Kart series, provide strong Hovering Closures as players near these finishing lines.

Using the pattern

Hovering Closures are used to create or intensify Anticipation or Tension in games. While the pattern is used in some form in most games, it may be essential in Quick Games to make them enjoyable at all.

There are many specific ways of creating Hovering Closures. Alignment, Bidding, Betting, Configuration, Cooldown, Rhythm-Based Actions, Symmetry, and Quests all by their nature set up for a clear potential closure. More generally Delayed Effects, Delayed Reciprocity, Extended Actions, and Predictable Consequences set up situations when players are aware of a future closure that can occur. Continuous Goals, FUBAR Enjoyment, The Show Must Go On, and Uncommitted Alliances do likewise but here the closures are generally negative ones. Complex Gameplay typically can be guaranteed to create many Hovering Closures at any given point in time. While Delayed Effects, Delayed Reciprocity, and Uncommitted Alliances can set up closures that take quite some time before the occur, Levels and Narration Structures can do so even more strongly. Ultra-Powerful Events can do this also if clearly advertised in advance.

Hovering Closures that are clearly quantified by the game system itself can be given Time Limits to increase Tension.

Interface Aspects

Progress Indicators can be provided to any type of goals in a game to create or make more explicit a Hovering Closure. This is especially true when combined with Combos or Development Time.

Narration Aspects

As started above, Narration Structures can be used to set up Hovering Closures related to the narration.


Hovering Closures can create Anticipation and Tension in games. This in turn can create Emotional Engrossment.


Can Instantiate

Anticipation, Emotional Engrossment, Tension

Can Modulate

Quick Games

Can Be Instantiated By

Alignment, Betting, Bidding, Complex Gameplay, Configuration, Continuous Goals, Cooldown, Delayed Effects, Delayed Reciprocity, Extended Actions, FUBAR Enjoyment, Narration Structures, Levels, Predictable Consequences, Progress Indicators, Quests, Rhythm-Based Actions, Symmetry, The Show Must Go On, Uncommitted Alliances, Ultra-Powerful Events

Combos or Development Time together with Progress Indicators

Can Be Modulated By

Time Limits

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Closure Points 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.