Social Roles

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Roles people can receive or take in relation to each other based on gameplay features.

This pattern is a still a stub.

While Bartle's paper "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs"[1] does present categories for gamers that do have aspects of social roles, these describe player preferences. The pattern described here looks at how gameplay features can evoke Social Roles.

Social Roles often


Using the pattern

What gameplay design patterns hinder or support Social Roles depend heavily on the specifics of individual Social Roles. Examples of possible Social Roles are:

  • Banned – players not allowed to play the game.
  • Outcasts – players excluded from social interaction with the other players.
  • Recluses – players willingly isolating themselves from social interaction with other players.
  • Motivators – players providing or advocating activities and experiences in the game without seeking any in-game benefit.
  • Negotiators – players negotiating between two other players.
  • Mediators – players performing actions for other players, either through their own actions or by taking over other players' possibilities to influence the game. A less active form of this is that of facilitators, which may not be seen as players.
  • Helpers – players actively helping other players perform actions in the game.
  • Violators – players trying to affect other players’ gameplay against their will through explicit actions.
  • Dominators – players trying to influence other players to perform specific actions for the player’s own in-game benefits.
  • Exhibitionists – players performing actions in the game to gain the other players’ attention.

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narrative Aspects



Guilting, Team Combos Roleplaying, Social Dilemmas, Possibility of Anonymity, Multiplayer Games, Enforced Player Anonymity, Helplessness, Massively Multiplayer Online Games,

Can Instantiate

Downtime, Game-Based Social Statuses, Non-Diegetic Communication, Role Selection, Social Interaction, Togetherness, Varied Gameplay

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Bragging, Chat Channels, Communication Channels, Cooperation, Coordination, Entitled Players, Fudged Results, Functional Roles, Game Masters, Guilds, Limited Communication Abilities, Negotiation, Parties, Player Kicking, Scapegoats, Social Organizations, Spectators, Teams, Tiered Participation

Competence Areas together with Multiplayer Games

Roleplaying together with Internal Rivalry or Thematic Consistency

Can Be Modulated By

Non-Diegetic Communication

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Actor Detachment, Limited Communication Abilities


New pattern created in this wiki. However, the concept was introduced in the paper Socially Adaptable Games that was presented in 2005.[2].


  1. Bartle, R. 1996 Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs.
  2. Eriksson, D., Peitz, J. & Björk, S. 2005. Socially Adaptable Games. Lightning round presentation at Changing Views: Worlds in Play, DiGRA conference 2005.