Book-Keeping Tokens

Book-Keeping Tokens

Game elements that do not represent concrete objects in the game world but instead holds specific parts of the game state.

Game states that at least partially represent abstract values require that games have some way to store the information. This can be done by using computers or humans that have to remember the information, but when computers are not available many games have Book-Keeping Tokens to let players focus on the gameplay rather than the manipulating objects to keep track of the game state.

Example: Puerto Rico has the role of governor that is passed among players. To help players keep track of their roles a small governor card is past to the player who currently is the governor.

Using the pattern

Book-Keeping Tokens allow more complex game states in Self-Facilitated Games without having to do Memorizing. However, they require players to do Extra-Game Actions that resemble Resource Management but without any Freedom of Choice. As this requires Attention Swapping from the actual gameplay, Book-Keeping Tokens can negatively affect all kinds of Immersion, except Cognitive Immersion.

Book-Keeping Tokens can be the Focus Loci of actions not associated with game elements in Game Worlds.


The values of the game state dictate most of the design requirements of Book-Keeping Tokens. However, game designers have options if the Book-Keeping Tokens should be used to provide the players with Imperfect Information, typically by Cards, or if they should be Public Information and give players a Game State Overview. The latter can support Cognitive Immersion as it gives Stimulated Planning.


Instantiates: Attention Swapping, Cognitive Immersion, Stimulated Planning, Imperfect Information, Public Information, Game State Overview, Extra-Game Actions, Focus Loci


Instantiated by: Cards

Modulated by:

Potentially conflicting with: Resource Management, Memorizing, Immersion