Public Information

Public Information

All or part of the information of the game state is available during the game to people other than the players

Many games either by explicit design or by their medium allow people not playing the game themselves to have access to the game state. Sports and board games are the most typical examples of games that provide Public Information because of their medium; non-players can simply observe the positions of the players and game elements and follow the actions performed. Other games, for example card and computer games, require technological support that has to be either embedded in the game or set up specifically for a certain game instance to provide information to non-players in an easily accessible format.

Note that information available to people not playing the game may not be available to all the players.

Example: The spectators of a Soccer game have information about the changes in the game state during the match, and the results are normally available to an even wider audience. Public high score lists, such as those in most arcade games, are also an example of using public information about the results of game instances.

Example: Players who have been killed in Counter-Strike can in the normal setups follow other players while they are waiting for their next turn to begin.

Using the pattern

What information can or should be Public Information naturally depends on the type game, but the most important factor is how Spectators can influence the players based on Public Information. This can be avoided by either forbidding the Spectators to influence the players' actions directly or it can be made part of the game through Extra-Game Actions, for example by asking the audience for advice in Who Wants to be a Millionaire? In Real-Time Games or games with Limited Planning Ability, the possibility of Spectators unbalancing gameplay through advice may be insignificant due to the problem of giving advice in time, especially in games based on Rhythm-Based Actions or Dexterity-Based Actions.

The availability of information is the prime factor affecting how players can make use of Public Information. Symmetric Information and Perfect Information between all players are already available to the players and therefore harmless to make public. Trans-Game Information, including statistics of earlier performances can affect Strategic Knowledge, but this is typically not a problem since such information is commonly available between games also for the players.

The Public Information made available can be aimed at providing an overview or detailed information about certain players or game elements. In the first case, Game State Overview and God Views are commonly used but also explicit Goal Indicators, Status Indicators, Progress Indicators, and Outcome Indicators. Detailed information is typically kept by Book-Keeping Tokens or in the form of Trans-Game Information, but it can also be represented in First-Person Views or Third-Person Views, as these allow focusing on particular parts of gameplay. Public Information is often broadcast or otherwise transmitted through dedicated Communication Channels, such as newspapers and television. Public Information for Spectators has an effect on the perceived Social Status of the players.


Public Information is a requirement for Spectators and is especially common in Tournaments. However, letting Spectators have access to the information about the game state can cause problems, since they can potentially send this information back to the players, either unmodified or after processing it. This potential problem can be solved in Self-Facilitated Games or those that have Game Masters, but it is a more difficult problem in games having other formsof Dedicated Game Facilitators or in Asynchronous Games.

Public Information allows people to collect their own Trans-Game Information, i. e., statistics and observations about players' tactics, in order to gain Strategic Knowledge and promote Stimulated Planning. When provided during gameplay and concern Paper-Rock-Scissors relations or Achilles' Heels, the availability of Public Information heavily influences players' plans and actions.


Instantiates: Spectators

Modulates: Social Statuses, Status Indicators, Strategic Knowledge, Achilles' Heels, Stimulated Planning, Trans-Game Information, Paper-Rock-Scissors, Extra-Game Actions

Instantiated by: Book-Keeping Tokens

Modulated by: God Views, Trans-Game Information, First-Person Views, Third-Person Views, Perfect Information, Goal Indicators, Symmetric Information, Outcome Indicators, Communication Channels, Game State Overview

Potentially conflicting with: Dedicated Game Facilitators, Asynchronous Games