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The goal of defeating an opposing force.

Games typically provide players with many goals which they need to try and succeed with. Overcome goals are those goals where there is agents or other players that in one form or another can be perceived as a force that needs to be defeating. Typically, narration or active actions against the completion of the goals are needed for the sense of an opposing force to be present.


Chess uses the Overcome pattern through a combination of eliminating the other player's pieces and skillful positioning of one's own pieces.

Fighting Games, such as the Mortal Kombat series and the Tekken series, are almost purely about overcoming the opponent by performing a series of successful attacks the opponent is unable to dodge or block.

First-Person shooters such as the Quake series, the Battlefield series, and the Left 4 Dead series base their core gameplay around Overcome goals related to other players or computer-controlled enemies.

Using the pattern

Central to designing Overcome is deciding upon what should be Overcome and how. Enemies, Boss Monsters, and Factions are all common targets of Overcome goals while having Eliminate subgoals is an obvious solution to consider for how Overcome goals can be completed. Tournaments divides single Overcome goals with many opponents into many Overcome goals with fewer opponents in each while Last Man Standing moves the focus on Overcome goals from personally having to be the one to Overcome all targets to being the one that removes the last target. Variants for completing Overcome goals include Area Control (e.g., Go and Hnefatafl) or Capture (e.g., Chess) - Trick Taking is a less self-evident option for games using Cards or Tiles. While often not having as clear opposing forces, Rhythm-Based Actions shows of yet another way in how Overcome goals can be completed (the races in Olympic Decathlon and Summer Games perhaps being the clearest examples of opposing forces).

From a pure gameplay perspective, the diegetic reasons for why the Overcome goals should be completed may not be as important as the how and what questions related to it. However, Overcome goals can naturally arise or be created from Rescue and Loyalty goals as well as be an easy option for complicating Deliver goals (i.e., there are agents in the game trying to Overcome those with a Deliver goal).

Overcome can be modified in several ways. The existence of Evade goals may make the need to complete Overcome goals unnecessary, Tiebreakers may make it impossible for Overcome goals not to resolved into either successes or failures, and Internal Rivalry may make otherwise allies into Enemies and may also restrict how conflicts can occur compared to other agents in a game. Timing can force players to have to try to complete Overcome goals at particular instances of time during gameplay and Achilles' Heels can provide ways to make Overcome goals either much easier or make otherwise impossible ones possible.

Negotiation goals can be seen as Excluding Goals to Overcome since a successful Negotiation is equally satisfactory to all involved parts.

Narration Aspects

Narration Structures are often created to provide narrative and thematic reason to motivate the Overcome goals to player, and exist implicitly when the Overcome goals are Mandatory Goals.

Games with Overcome goals often make use of the goals many times through the provided gameplay. Given that games often wish to have Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses, these Overcome goals tend to need to be more difficult as gameplay progresses which typically easily alignment with how Narration Structures are built.


Competition and Conflict typically occurs whenever the opposing force in an Overcome goal has agency, and this also likely to cause Engrossment and Tension. Since the opposing forces of Overcome goals typically can oppose the goals by overcoming those with the goals, Overcome goals typically are Symmetric Goals which are also Excluding Goals to each other. The natural thematic representation of Overcome goals is as some form of Combat which means that this patterns typically arises from the existence of Overcome goals. The aftermath of completed Overcome goals can typically have consequences related to Transfer of Control (and thereby Gain Ownership) and Player Elimination.

Skill is often involved in some form to success with Overcome goals and whenever this occurs these types of goals encourage the development of Gameplay Mastery.

The existence of related Overcome and Evade goals encourage Tactical Planning by all that have these goals.


Can Instantiate

Combat, Competition, Conflict, Engrossment, Excluding Goals, Gain Ownership, Gameplay Mastery, Narration Structures, Player Elimination, Symmetric Goals, Tension, Transfer of Control

with Evade

Tactical Planning

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Area Control, Capture, Boss Monsters, Eliminate, Enemies, Factions, Last Man Standing, Loyalty, Rescue, Rhythm-Based Actions, Tournaments, Trick Taking

Can Be Modulated By

Achilles' Heels, Evade, Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses, Internal Rivalry, Mandatory Goals, Narration Structures, Tiebreakers, Timing

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Overcome 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.