Reflective Communication

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The one-sentence "definition" that should be in italics.

This pattern is a still a stub.

While Reflective Communication is possible to consider for players operating on their own (in a sense similar to Schön's concept of The Reflective Practitioner[1]), this pattern assumes that the Reflective Communication is between players.

Note: this pattern is modeled upon the concept of Reflective Communication first described by Engeström in 1987[2].


Left 4 Dead series? Pandemic


Players of Hanabi may be enticed by the game design to engage in Reflective Communication, but this is typically cheating since much of the gameplay challenge in Hanabi relates to not knowing what other players know.

Using the pattern

Engeström's concept of Reflective Communication builds upon the requirement that participants engage in five different types of activities. The first, that players recognize the perspective of other persons in a group, can be captured by the pattern Perspective Taking. The second, that players should participate as members of a group by constructively contributing knowledge, experience, and expertise, is in one sense given if one is playing a as intended but Togetherness encapsulates emotional aspects that arguably are connected to this activity. The third, that players recognize the need for other players and and manages them, can be expressed as that they take on the necessary Social Roles provided by a game. The fourth, that players work towards solving problems by identifying structures and procedures together, requires that the players engage in some form of Coordination. Finally, the fifth, that players build and develop knowledge and expertise, means that they either acquire Gameplay Mastery or Strategic Knowledge. Summarizing, the use of the patterns associated with the activities provide a basis for encouraging Reflective Communication to take place during gameplay but several other patterns can either encourage or modify how it can take shape.

For example, Reflective Communication can emerge in any game Multiplayer Games but may be against other players' best interest unless Cooperation is needed or wanted. While not necessarily implying Cooperation, games where players have Negotiation with each other can promote Reflective Communication although players engaging in it may use it as a way to manipulate other players rather than cooperating (so they may limit what the openly reflect upon and can led to Bluffing).

Looking more broadly, Reflective Communication can be encouraged in two main ways: one focusing on making players openly reflect on their own situations and possible actions and the other focusing on making players openly reflect on the other players situations and possible actions. The two ways are not contradictory, and providing one may encourage the other since players become more aware that performing Reflective Communication can be beneficial.

!!!Add links to patterns listed here!!! Symbiotic Player Relations

Can Instantiate

Coordination, Social Roles

Can Be Instantiated By

Asymmetric Gameplay, Asymmetric Abilities, Asymmetric Goals, Asymmetric Information Collaborative Actions, Cooperation

Diegetic Aspects

Gaming with both Reflective Communication and Roleplaying can make players reflect as how their Characters would, i.e. reflecting diegetically to the other players. If other players reply diegetically, then the whole Reflective Communication can in effect be between Characters as well as between players.

Interface Aspects

Given that Reflective Communication is a pattern related to communication, how players can do it affects how the pattern emerges during gameplay. This means that Communication Channels can heavily affect if and how Reflective Communication takes place while a game is being played.

Narration Aspects


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Reflective Communication can be problematic in some games since it can affect narration. One case is games with Roleplaying, where Reflective Communication between players (rather than between Characters) becomes Non-Diegetic Communication which can result in Non-Consistent Narration, challenges to Narrative Engrossment, or issues with perceiving Diegetic Consistency.


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Can Instantiate

Coordination, Social Roles Non-Consistent Narration

Bluffing in games with Negotiation

Can Modulate

Multiplayer Games, Negotiation, Roleplaying

Can Be Instantiated By

Coordination, Perspective Taking, Social Roles, Togetherness, and either Gameplay Mastery or Strategic Knowledge

Asymmetric Abilities, Asymmetric Gameplay, Asymmetric Goals, Asymmetric Information, Collaborative Actions, Cooperation, Symbiotic Player Relations

Can Be Modulated By

Communication Channels

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Diegetic Consistency, Narrative Engrossment

Non-Diegetic Communication in games with Roleplaying


New pattern created in this wiki base upon the concept of Reflective Communication first described by Engeström in 1987[2].


  1. Schön, D.A. (1984). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action. Basic Books; 1 edition
  2. 2.0 2.1 Engeström, Y. (1987):Learning by Expanding: An activity-theoreticalapproach to developmental research,Helsinki: Orienta–Konsultit Oy.