Uncertainty of Information

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The case when a player cannot be certain on the reliability of information he or she has.

This pattern is a still a stub.


Battleships and Stratego both depend on a player not knowing the exact positions of the other players' piece.




Using the pattern

Uncertainty of Information is typically added to games to provide Player Unpredictability or Solution Uncertainty. Imperfect Information and Indirect Information are the generic methods to achieve Uncertainty of Information but many more specific ways exists.

Information Passing can create uncertainty in itself (see for example Chinese whispers) and players may engage in Bluffing while communicating. In addition, the Communication Channels in themselves can provide errors and uncertainty to the communication. Players and Non-Player Help can also create Uncertainty of Information through Ambiguous Responses.

Enforced Player Anonymity provides Uncertainty of Information regarding which player did what. What actions Enemies will do can also have a level of uncertainty when these are decided at least partly by Randomness.

Can Be Instantiated By

Drawing Stacks, Feigned Die Rolls, Fog of War,

Can Modulate

Outcome Indicators, Stimulated Planning, Unknown Goals

Can Be Modulated By

Public Player Statistics, Randomness

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narration Aspects

Detective Structures is a way of providing Uncertainty of Information in games since players know not more about the game state or World than what their Focus Loci provides.


Limited Planning Ability and Solution Uncertainty are two typically consequences of players having Uncertainty of Information since it adds uncertainty to things like Delayed Effects and lessens Predictable Consequences. This in turn can provide Gain Information goals, encourage Game World Exploration, and generally increase Tension. Uncertainty of the position of Enemies provides players with the goal of Reconnaissance.

Uncertainty of Information can provide the requirements for Anonymous Actions and Secret Resources. It can partly through this also support Player Unpredictability and patterns related to this such as Betrayal and Secret Alliances.

Several patterns work against Uncertainty of Information simply because they provide information to players. Direct Information and Perfect Information are the patterns which most strongly does this, but other that do this to a lesser degree include Game State Indicators, Goal Indicators, Outcome Indicators, Predictable Consequences, and Progress Indicators.


Can Instantiate

Anonymous Actions, Betrayal, Gain Information, Game World Exploration, Limited Planning Ability, Player Unpredictability, Secret Alliances, Secret Resources, Solution Uncertainty, Tension

with Enemies


Can Modulate

Delayed Effects, Outcome Indicators, Predictable Consequences, Stimulated Planning, Unknown Goals

Can Be Instantiated By

Ambiguous Responses, Bluffing, Communication Channels, Detective Structures, Drawing Stacks, Enforced Player Anonymity, Feigned Die Rolls, Fog of War, Imperfect Information, Indirect Information, Information Passing, Non-Player Help

Enemies together with Randomness

Can Be Modulated By

Public Player Statistics, Randomness

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Direct Information, Game State Indicators, Goal Indicators, Outcome Indicators, Perfect Information, Predictable Consequences, Progress Indicators


An updated version of the pattern Uncertainty of Information 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.