Shared Resources

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Resources which several players have access to during a game instance, either continuously or at varying times.

Resources are a common component of game designs, and used by players to perform various actions. Resources that are available to several different players – either with or without the players consent to this – are Shared Resources.


In the board game Space Alert, the energy used to power shields and lasers come from a common source, making it a Shared Resource. In team-based FPS Games such as the Left 4 Dead series or Battlefield series the players in each team need to shared ammunition and health kits (in the former game) and vehicles (in the later game).

Using the pattern

Shared Resources are introduced to make players have to deal with the complexity of having Resources that other players also can manipulate. This rather obviously changes perceptions of Ownership of said resources, but can also heavily influence the Social Interaction and Social Organizations present in a game. They can also affect or create Alliances and Mutual Goals when players can agree on trying to use the Shared Resources in a controlled way together. Examples of Shared Resources includes Lives or Extra Chances which whole Teams shares, as are the elements placed in common bags as part of Bag Building. Mutual Goals can also be used to modulate Shared Resources by simply given such goals to the players that have the Shared Resources.

Penalties and Rewards can be modified by Shared Resources by having their effects apply on these. Perhaps more naturally they can be the target of both Shared Penalties and Shared Rewards.


Shared Resources can lead to Competition in the form of Resource Competition, and thereby Tension. It can also lead to Negotiation and Social Interaction focused upon those Shared Resources, and when this occurs may spread to players taking on different Social Roles related to the Resources or putting them in situations of Social Dilemmas. Such Social Dilemmas are even more common in games where players not only have Shared Resources but also need to engage in Cooperation, and this may further increase Tension since players may have Inherent Mistrust of each other.

That others can use Shared Resources can effectively make Time Limits exist on how long players have access to these Resources. The presence of Shared Resources also make the players with access to them have Symmetric Resource Distribution regarding those Resources.


Can Instantiate

Competition, Negotiation, Resource Competition, Social Dilemmas, Social Interaction, Social Roles, Symmetric Resource Distribution, Tension, Time Limits

with Cooperation

Inherent Mistrust, Social Dilemmas, Tension

Can Modulate

Alliances, Bag Building, Lives, Ownership, Penalties, Resources, Rewards, Shared Penalties, Shared Rewards Social Interaction, Social Organizations

Can Be Instantiated By

Extra Chances together with Teams

Can Be Modulated By

Mutual Goals

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Shared Resources 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.