Player-Player Proximity

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Game rules that depend on players being physically close to other players.

Spatial proximity is often a core part of game rules. For games where gameplay actions are directly done by players without any mediation the often translates into the case of Player-Player Proximity being an important factor in what can or cannot be done.


Sports where several participants compete simultaneously and can affect each other, e.g. Soccer, Basketball, and Boxing, depend on Player-Player Proximity. Likewise, Live Action Roleplaying Games such as 1942 – Noen å stole på, Conspiracy for Good, and Momentum, rely on Player-Player Proximity since players wish to have face-to-face interaction when roleplaying. Assassin and children's games such as Hide-and-Seek also make being close to other players a factor of gameplay.

Another type of Player-Player Proximity exists in games where players do not have to have actual physical interaction but technology requires them to be close. Examples of such games include BotFighters, Human PacMan, Pirates!, and Treasure. Pacman must die provides a variant of this since here multiple mobile devices each contain part of the mediated game and players need to place them appropriately to be able and move through the gameplay area.

Using the pattern

The main design choices for Player-Player Proximity, as for the other patterns related to proximity, is what distance is defined as proximity and if it is achieving it, maintaining it, or leaving it that triggers effects (or all of these). Beyond this, designers need to consider the potential effects of unsupervised Social Interaction since this is likely to occur as an effect of the pattern. While gameplay design to hinder players from having Social Interaction with each other as soon as Player-Player Proximity is achieved may be difficult to enforce, Extended Actions can be used to trigger mechanical gameplay events based upon entering, maintaining, or breaking proximity. Seamful Gameplay incorporates the variations in how well the underlying technology detects players as part of the Player-Player Proximity mechanic.

While players can be motivated to come close to other players by gameplay events directly caused by Player-Player Proximity, the combination of Game Element Trading and Player-Artifact Proximity is likely to make it happen even without other effects.


The possibility or requirement of Player-Player Proximity in a game is likely to affect how players relate to each others and the actions they perform. This most strongly affects activities that rely on social factors, so activities such as Bluffing or Negotiation are modulated by Player-Player Proximity.

Player-Player Proximity modifies Real World Gameplay Spaces so that the areas containing players gain additional gameplay values. The pattern is also likely to make Physical Navigation part of gameplay in a game as well as Social Interaction. If the gameplay area is not restricted from other areas, the pattern will also create Pervasive Gameplay.

The use of Player-Player Proximity makes it possible for Game Masters to have access to a part of the game state even if they are not present themselves. This can be useful in Pervasive Games and LARPs.


Can Instantiate

Pervasive Gameplay, Physical Navigation, Social Interaction

Can Modulate

Bluffing, Game Masters, Negotiation, Real World Gameplay Spaces

Can Be Instantiated By

Game Element Trading together with Player-Artifact Proximity

Can Be Modulated By

Extended Actions, Seamful Gameplay

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



Updated version of the pattern Player-Player Proximity first described in the report Game Design Patterns for Mobile Games[1].


  1. Davidsson, O., Peitz, J. & Björk, S. (2004). Game Design Patterns for Mobile Games. Project report to Nokia Research Center, Finland.


Johan Peitz