<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-competition.html>Competition</a>


Competition is the struggle between players or against the game system to achieve a certain goal where the performance of the players can be measured at least relatively.

Competition can take many forms, with the primary dichotomy being between having to actively engage against other players to win, direct Competition, or being able to win without interacting directly with other players, indirect Competition. The first case is the most common and is usually aggressive and destructive (e. g., Chess) but is also often perceived as the most emotionally engaging. The second can more easily allow for slow-paced games and constructive gameplay. It also puts more emphasis on competing against oneself.

Example: Many games based on race have indirect Competition between the players to reach a certain position in the game as fast as possible. The performance of the players is measured by timing each player's race.

Using the pattern

The easiest form of Competition is Conflict with Enemies, but any situation where players have Incompatible Goals, Excluding Goals (possibly through Tiebreakers), or Rewards (especially Individual Rewards), can cause Competition. Two forms of Competition that require Conflict are Overcome and King of the Hill. Examples of Competition without Conflict are all forms of Races without Interferable Goals or Last Man Standing goals where the players are not the cause of each others' demise. In these types of Competitions, the players are not each others Enemies, but the game may provide other Enemies through Agents.

Using Mutual Goals with Shared Rewards in subgoalsof the Competition reduces the level of competition between the players, as the players can have Cooperation with other players in Alliances. By encouraging Dynamic Alliances, the dynamics of Competition and Cooperation usually increase the level of Social Interaction between the players.

How the Competition ends depends on what criteria the different competitors have. Symmetric Goals allow players to judge more easily their chance of winning and are often used to create Player Balance between players. Asymmetric Goals allow different strategies and can create a more varied gameplay and may also promote temporary alliances, although it may be more difficult to balance the game. Further, players may have Unknown Goals, which allows for techniques of masquerading one's intentions.

If one player is certain to win a Competition, the motivation for other players to continue competing becomes pointless. In the case of subgoals, this can be a temporary setback, which can be offset by winning other Competitions, but if the outcome of the overall game becomes apparent, the motivation for continuing to play the game may become pointless.

The final outcome of Competition varies as well: the winner may gain Rewards in the form of Resources, information, Improved Abilities, or Social Status; the loser may similarly lose Resources, suffer Ability Losses, or be excluded from the game through Player Elimination. Exclusion from the game near the end of the game is usually not a problem, but early exclusion may be. Specific examples of more complex forms of Competition for subgoals within games include Bidding and Trading.

The use of Agents allows players to compete without having to risk the social consequences of losing a game to other players. On the other hand, this means loss of opportunities to gain Social Status by winning the game. The use of Ghosts has similar effects on Competition but may still give Social Status, as the results between different players can be compared.


Having Competition in a game gives a sense of purpose to playing the game and often creates Tension during gameplay. If players have chosen to play a competitive game, they have chosen to test their abilities against other players, a computer, or a puzzle. Competition can also motivate Social Interaction in general, but especially in games where there are dynamics of Competition and Cooperation between the players, as is the case in Social Dilemmas and rivalries in Social Organizations.

As Competition makes players want to use their Resources and abilities as efficiently as possible, the presence of Competition discourages Experimenting.


Instantiates: Social Statuses, Conflict, Tension

Modulates: Social Statuses, Social Interaction, Alliances, Dynamic Alliances

Instantiated by: Shared Resources, Bidding, Incompatible Goals, Excluding Goals, Trading, Last Man Standing, Overcome, Race, Ghosts, Enemies, King of the Hill, Red Queen Dilemmas, Rewards

Modulated by: Collaborative Actions, Mutual Goals, Shared Rewards, Symmetric Goals, Individual Rewards, Tiebreakers, Asymmetric Goals, Unknown Goals, Alliances, Social Dilemmas, Social Organizations, Agents, Cooperation, Player Balance

Potentially conflicting with: Experimenting