Player Decided Results

Player Decided Results

Players, or at least some of the players, are responsible for deciding at least some of the results of the player actions. These decisions are not necessarily based on the rules of the game.

Some evaluation functions in games are not mechanically determined by the game state but can be influenced by the wills of players. This makes the results Player Decided Results and adds a level of player control to games that can be used to penalize leaders, oppress minorities, or ensure fair distributions depending on the current game situation and what influence different players have.

Example: In tabletop roleplaying games, the ultimate decision maker is one of the players, the Game Master. In some more freeform, storytelling-oriented roleplaying games, such as White Wolf's World of Darkness series, the other players are more or less responsible for the story progression.

Example: All children's games without a specific game facilitator, such as Hide & Seek and Tag, rely on the players themselves maintaining the game state, and in case of disputes, deciding the results for themselves.

Example: Other players can vote to kick off and even ban players who behave badly in many online first-person shooters.

Using the pattern

The rules for making the decisions can be within the game system, influenced by the game system, or outside the game system. Player Decided Results where the rules are within the game system usually involve voting, or other types of Bidding, between the players about the possible results, and the result is decided from a set defined by the game system itself. If these situations are frequent, the players have a tendency to form Alliances to increase their Perceived Chance to Succeed. This can, in some situations, also lead to Delayed Reciprocity between the players. When agreements regarding Player Decided Results are secret from other players, they can be used to create Secret Alliances.

When Player Decided Results are influenced by the game system, the players, or usually the Game Master, can cancel the result generated by the game system. This is quite common in tabletop roleplaying games where the Game Master can, for example, veto the results of a combat system to maintain the Narrative Structure and Tension. The last category, where the rules for the decisions are outside the game system, contains games that are part game and part other form of entertainment. Freeform games based on Storytelling do not necessarily have specific rules for determining the results of most of the player actions, and the players themselves are wholly responsible for making the decisions. Especially the last two categories can have a negative effect on Predictable Consequences.

A special case of Player Decided Results is the Player-Decided Distribution of Rewards & Penalties. Games where the players have active parts in maintaining the game state, as in Self-Facilitated Games and games that allow Player Constructed Worlds, naturally involve Player Decided Results.


Player Decided Results give players a concrete form of Empowerment within the game. Players who have the power to make the decisions about the results, such as Game Masters, naturally have a strong and correct Perceived Chance to Succeed as they themselves determine these chances. The thing gets complicated, however, if the Player Decided Results are Collaborative Actions where more that one player is involved in making the decisions. Even a simple vote to kick off a player from an online game might involve intense Negotiations between the players to influence the decisions. Games allowing Player Decided Results usually have at least a tendency towards Social Interaction between the players during the game. For example, Player Decided Results can have Balancing Effects that ensure Player Balance if no player has sole decision powers but can also enable Betrayal. The uncertainty of what result players may choose gives players in games with these kinds of results Limited Planning Ability. Social Organizations with at least somewhat stable hierarchies of power necessarily involve Player Decided Results as players with higher Social Status can give commands to lower ranking players.

Player Decided Results are often not useful in games with Team Balance, since the most likely result is that players make the predictable choices of supporting their teams, making the results merely depend on the number of players in each team. However, the pattern can become interesting in games with more than two teams or where players have different amounts of influence or motivations for Betrayal.


Instantiates: Delayed Reciprocity, Social Organizations, Balancing Effects, Limited Planning Ability, Empowerment, Player Balance, Betrayal, Secret Alliances, Perceived Chance to Succeed

Modulates: Alliances, Social Interaction

Instantiated by: Collaborative Actions, Player-Decided Distribution of Rewards & Penalties, Game Masters, Self-Facilitated Games, Storytelling, Player Constructed Worlds

Modulated by: Social Statuses, Negotiation

Potentially conflicting with: Predictable Consequences, Team Balance