Gain <a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-ownership.html>Ownership</a>

Gain Ownership

This is simply the goal to gain the ownership of a game element.

The goal of controlling a game element, either by possessing it or by controlling the use of it, is common to many games. The ownership may be a reason in itself (as for example controlling space in Go or controlling Flag points in Battlefield 1942), may be a requirement for completing a higher- Level goal, or may simply make it easier to complete various types of actions or goals.

Example: Weapons, ammunition, and power-ups are all examples of objectives for Gain Ownership goals in first-person shooters such as Quake, Unreal Tournament, or Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

Example: Othello (also called Reversi) has the goal of gaining ownership of a majority of the game pieces, and every turn in the game involves changes in ownership.

Using the pattern

The use of a Gain Ownership goal tightly links the Reward of the goal with the game element that is owned, or part of the Game World in cases of Area Control. This usually provides players with an increase in Score, more Resources, Improved Abilities, New Abilities (and possibly Privileged Abilities) from Tools, or new information in the form of Clues. In many cases, the game element is destroyed or taken out of gameplay with the completion of the goal, in principle making use of the Converter pattern.

An important design choice for the Gain Ownership pattern is how ownership of the game element is achieved, if it can change after it has been set, and if it can be shared. Ownership can be the immediate result of a subgoal, typically Stealth, Overcome, Capture, or Contact, but others are possible, which makes the goals part of a Hierarchy of Goals. An interesting exception to this is Delivery goals, where the objective is to make someone else in the game succeed with a Gain Ownership goal. Other common ways of gaining ownership are the results of Construction, Bidding, Betting, or Trading actions. The design of a Gain Ownership goal requires either that the ownership has not been determined yet or that ownership can change. Using the possibility of changing ownership makes all the goals that have the same game element as goal object into Excluding Goals and supports Conflict. Not being able to change ownership may lessen Conflict after ownership has been determined but may make it more intense before this is done, as the Risk/Reward can be seen as higher. Being able to share ownership can also lessen Conflict, can support Shared Rewards instead of Individual Rewards, and can force players into Alliances, which require Negotiation and Collaborative Action. Conflict over individual Resources that are part of a class of Renewable Resources typically is less intense than Non-Renewable Resources. A variation of how Ownership is handled is by using Indirect Control: in these cases, the Ownership may always be shared, or the Transfer of Control may be very easy to achieve.

The ownership, if any, of a game element in a Gain Ownership goal does not have to be public knowledge, for discovering who has ownership of the game element may be used as a required Gain Information subgoal that is necessary to locate the element or the owner. The same applies after the Gain Ownership goal has been completed, either to make changes in Ownership more difficult or to heighten Tension.

An important distinction to make when creating ownership goals is to determine if the Ownership is linked to a removable game element, i. e., if the game element is a Unit that moves or a Pick-Up that can be moved from its position in the Game World. Having game elements that can be moved makes the area where they are located a Resource Location, while using an area makes it a Strategic Location, or strengthens an already existent one, based on the Rewards and Penalties associated with the goal.

Choosing Units as goal objects makes it possible to link the completion of the Gain Ownership goal to Overcome and Capture goals but may create Enemies. The use of Pick-Ups makes it difficult to share ownership and easy for players to observe if anybody has completed a Gain Ownership goal regarding the game element. If the possession can be detected and the ownership changed, this also allows for emergent Overcome or Capture subgoals. The ownership of the game element may require the owner to do Resource Management between different game elements under the player's control. Further, as these game elements may be difficult to share, the Reward for the goal becomes an Individual Reward. However, if the use of information contained in the game element is not controlled by the game system, the game element can be passed on without loss of the information, or the information can be spread through a Communication Channel.

Having the ownership linked to non-moveable game elements can provide players with New Abilities through Controllers or Resources through Chargers or Resource Generators. Further, if the game elements are areas in the Game World, oftenmarked by Outstanding Features, they can function as Goal Points for goals of persistence such as King of the Hill or Guard. Strategic Locations can also be the objective for ownership goals and are typically Optional Goals.


Gain Ownership is the goal of achieving Ownership through Transfer of Control from other players or the game system to a specific player. The Ownership can be regarding game elements or, in the case of Area Control of Strategic Locations, about parts of the Game World. Being a combination of a goal and the possibility of Ownership, Gain Ownership provides two motivations for Emotional Immersion in games. If the owned game element or area was previously owned by the players and has caused Ability Losses, this is even more likely to increase Emotional Immersion.

Gaining Ownership of game elements creates a sense of progress as players increase the number of owned elements, which can be used as a basis for Collection or Configuration goals, as well as supporting one of the requirements, gaining new resources, for Resource Management. If the Ownership gives New Abilities, it supports the Gain Competence goal, while if it gives access to information, it instead supports Gain Information.

Gain Ownership of pieces can be in a form of Capture. In this case, the patterncreates Conflict, are thereby Tension, if there exist actions so that one player can take the ownership of game elements from another player without that player's consent. If only one player can own the game element, goals of having that game element become Excluding Goals.


Instantiates: Conflict, Emotional Immersion, Transfer of Control, Gain Information, Gain Competence, Collection, Betting, Area Control

Modulates: Delivery, Resource Management, Configuration, Stealth, Enemies, King of the Hill, Ownership

Instantiated by: Capture, Overcome, Construction, Strategic Locations, Ability Losses, Contact, Indirect Control

Modulated by: Goal Points, Bidding, Resource Generators, Trading, Enclosure, Strategic Locations, Renewable Resources, Betting, Clues, Tools, Pick-Ups, Resource Locations, Score, New Abilities, Improved Abilities, Controllers, Chargers

Potentially conflicting with: