Dexterity-Based Actions

Dexterity-Based Actions

Actions whose success or failure depends on some form of dexterity, in most cases, eye-hand coordination.

Dexterity-Based Actions are those actions whose effects are determined by how the player physically performs them. The effects of the actions do not have to be directly connected to what the player is manipulating for actions to be dexterous: billiards and computer games are examples of how games can be manipulated through indirect control.

Example: Most sports require skillful Dexterity-Based Actions as part of Game Mastery, and this is often used to define what a sport is. The question of whether Chess is a sport shows that this definition is not fully accepted by everyone.

Example: Moving Avatars in first-person shooters can be seen as a Dexterity-Based Action, since players can get feedback quickly enough to feel immersed in the virtual environment.

Using the pattern

Dexterity-Based Actions are present in both traditional games and computer games, but are mediated in computer games. However, they must be Real-Time Games, and response times from computer systems can affect Dexterity-Based Actions negatively; if actions take much time before they are enacted---typically above 100 milliseconds---they do not seem to be the immediate effect of player actions and thereby do not seem to be Dexterity-Based Actions. This can somewhat be mitigated with games that have few Surprises and either use Timing for single actions together with Progress Indicators or use Rhythm-Based Actions where the delays can be ignored for the internal rhythm that players can maintain.

Examples of actions that require Dexterity-Based Actions are Movement that requires Maneuvering, especially to avoid Obstacles, and various forms of Combat or games with Overcome goals, with Aim & Shoot being a particularly common form in computer games. The difficulty of Dexterity-Based Actions can be modulated by making players manipulate game elements through Indirect Control.

The difficulty of Dexterity-Based Actions is dependent on how the players perceive the Game World. Although First-Person Views give players Spatial Immersion and thereby a perception of the game state, which is directly related to the actions that are to be performed, Third-Person Views can sometimes be easier, since they make it easier to see the relation between their Focus Loci and the environment. For example, timing the jump over a chasm can be easier with a Third-Person View than a First-Person View, as players can see exactly when to push off while still seeing where one is going. Likewise, Maneuvering a vehicle can be easier from a Third-Person View, as one can see the distance to other objects more easily and can have a better sense of scale.

Surprises make ongoing Dexterity-Based Actions difficult, and the success of Dexterity-Based Actions is easily destroyed by any Disruption of Focused Attention events. For non-mediated Dexterity-Based Actions in sports, e. g., archery, the high levels of Game Mastery can be described as being able to ignore all Disruption of Focused Attention events, including the ones generated by one's own thoughts.


Dexterity-Based Actions are present in Real-Time Games where either Timing or Extended Actions is required; in the latter case, with a granularity so small that players do not notice the end of one action and the start of another action. Performing these forms of actions gives Sensory-Motoric Immersion and Spatial Immersion in games with a Game World. Mastering Dexterity-Based Actions often forms the core of Game Mastery in Real-Time Games, andvarious forms of Dexterity-Based Actions are common as the basis for games in Polyathlons.


Instantiates: Spatial Immersion, Game Mastery, Sensory-Motoric Immersion

Modulates: Overcome, Real-Time Games, Polyathlons

Instantiated by: Aim & Shoot, Combat, Extended Actions, Maneuvering, Obstacles, Movement

Modulated by: Surprises, First-Person Views, Third-Person Views, Progress Indicators, Indirect Control

Potentially conflicting with: Disruption of Focused Attention