Pervasive Gameplay

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Gameplay that can co-exist or be integrated with other activities.

The archetypical view of gaming activities are as being separated from other "ordinary" activities (which can be seen in the metaphor of the magic circle[1] that has been more extensively in later work of understanding games[2]). This is however not true of all games, in some cases because they can rather easily co-exist with other activities and in other cases because the game design makes "ordinary" activities into gameplay actions. Both types of game have Pervasive Gameplay.

For more information about Pervasive Gameplay, although based upon a slightly different usage of pervasive to define pervasive games, see Pervasive Games - Theory and Design[3]. Note also that while ubiquitous and pervasive are used as synonyms, the patterns Pervasive Gameplay and Ubiquitous Gameplay are defined to describe different aspects of gameplay in this collection.


Car Numberplate Games are examples of games that are specifically made to make car travelling more enjoying. Insectopia does the same but can more generally be integrated with other types of activities. Assassin also does this but since the actual killings can disrupt other activities there are typically safe places and safe hours in the game instances.

Alternate Reality Games with roleplaying components, e.g. Momentum and Prosopopeia, need to be designed so that players can combine their roleplaying with their everyday social interactions, or with relative little friction move between social roles.

Using the pattern

Having Ubiquitous Gameplay makes it easier to support Pervasive Gameplay since limiting the dependency on dedicated places and equipment making it easy for the gameplay activity to be able to co-exist with other activities.

Safe Havens

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narrative Aspects


Games with Pervasive Gameplay are either likely to at least take partially place in public environment or explicitly designed to do so. For this reason they are likely to make use of Real World Gameplay Spaces and be viewed by Spectators. Pervasive Gameplay is an enabler for Alternate Reality Gameplay since they by definition are able to co-exist with other activities and thereby can hide or merge with these activities.


Can Instantiate

Alternate Reality Gameplay, Real World Gameplay Spaces, Spectators

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Ubiquitous Gameplay

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Huizinga, J. (1955). Homo Ludens. Boston: Beacon Press, 1955, p. 10.
  2. Salen, K. & Zimmerman (2004). Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals. MIT Press.
  3. Montola, M., Stenros, J. & Waern, A. (2009) Pervasive Games - Theory and Design. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.