<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-tournaments.html>Tournaments</a>


Tournaments consist of the playing of a series of game instances where the outcome of each instances affects the outcome of the whole tournament.

By making each of a number of games count toward a common score, virtually any kind of game or games can be made into Tournaments. Tournaments also allow several players to compete in teams even if the individual games do not allow teams, and Tournaments may also let more players test their skills against each other than is possible in a single game session. Usually all participants in a Tournament, either on a team level or an individual player level, are part of the Tournament from the beginning, and changes to the team composition are not allowed as long as the Tournament continues.

Some games, particularly games of chance, are played in Tournaments where several game instances are completed within a single play session. These games have a short playing time for each instance, and the skill required is most often based on outwitting or outguessing other players' strategies or simply on luck.

Example: In Poker, each round is one game instance and, for most people, playing only one round is quite meaningless. That is why Poker is very often played in a Tournament, such as the Poker night, where the outcome is to win money from the other players and to gain insight into the other players' ways of playing Poker.

Example: TransAmerica is a board game where the goal for each round is to be the first player to connect five American cities with railroad tracks, and the players who still have unconnected cities lose points based on how many tracks are missing from connecting the cities. The cities to be connected are different for each player and they are kept secret from the other players. The Tournament ends when one of the players has lost a certain amount of points.

Example: The world cup in Soccer is a Tournament using elimination of the other teams for determining the final winner. The teams are eliminated from the Tournament on the basis of losing single game instances to other teams, and the last team left in play is the winner.

Using the pattern

The primary design choice of a Tournament, of course, concerns what games the Tournament should consist of. Usually this is one game played several different times, either with the same or a different composition of players, but Tournaments consisting of other Tournaments are also possible, as are Polyathlons. If the different events where players compete against each other are sufficiently separate, Last Man Standing can be seen as a Tournament (as in the game Unreal Tournament). Common uses of the Tournament structure within Multiplayer Games can be found when Betting or Combat activities occur.

Whatever the choice of games (or sub-tournaments) for the Tournament, the results from them must by quantifiable so that they can be incorporated into the state of the Tournament. This is usually done by Eliminate where the loss of a game means that one is out of the Tournament, or by using a Score system to postpone the consequences of individual games to a later point. The mapping between the outcome of a single game instance and the final outcome of he Tournament can be as simple as a one-to-one mapping between victories and points to more complex systems to influence the way individual games are played, e. g., giving three points for a victory and one point for a draw to penalize safe tactics. The use of Score systems can however make the consequences of individual game instances into Illusionary Rewards since the overall outcome of a Tournament can already be evident. In Self-Facilitated Games, Tournaments can spontaneously occur as players may ask for rematches in the form of best-of-three suggestions.

Although Tournaments typically use Tiebreakers, they can also instantiate them, for example by consisting of uneven number of played games. Playing a game two times in a row but swapping players roles can create Player Balance in games with Asymmetric Abilities. In these cases the overall Tiebreaker, given that all players won using the same role in the game, is usually to compare the margin by which the winning role won.

Tournaments have either mechanistic or random ways of determining in which order the different game instances will be played. However, the medieval tournaments show the possibility of letting participants influence what game instances are played in which order by allowing them to challenge other participants, in effect using a form of Selectable Sets of Goals in Self-Facilitated Games.


Tournaments are Meta Games that have Overcome goals and thereby include Conflict. They rarely allow Tied Result by design, and typically repeat or prolong the underlying activity as a way to create an initial Tiebreaker. Since Tournaments consist of several different game instances, they give Replayability to games automatically and give extra potential for Tension between the actual game sessions. They can be used to achieve Perceivable Margins on which player has Game Mastery since elements of Randomness can be removed due to repetition.

Tournaments can be used for two main purposes: either to support the participation of more players than one instance of the game can handle or to remove the influence of Luck or temporary variation in performance of players in order to create Perceivable Margins. In the first case, it is common to use Eliminate to reduce the number of players as the tournament progresses, which can imply Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses. This form of Tournaments can be combined with allowing Team Play that does not exist in the individual games by defining teams across the game sessions. The second case usually does not use Eliminate, since it is common to want the same players to meet each other several times, allowing them to build Strategic Knowledge. The second case is common in Overcome goals but Tournaments can also be used to create Meta Games with Overcome goalsconsisting of winning any sort of goal more times than the other players do.

Since Tournaments consist of undividable or atomic components, the completion of each game instance is a Closure Point from which only a small amount of Trans-Game Information is passed on to the Tournament. As this provides a means of distributing the activity both in time and space, a Tournament allows players not to have to participate in all events of a Tournament while still being full participants. The Tournament structure used in a single play session with Quick Games is at least based partly on Luck, which allows for closures of success and failure to virtually all players.

Tournaments demand stronger long term commitment to the game itself, making the necessary skills of the game more valuable. However, they may also support the distribution of the activity in time, allowing skills and tactics to develop during the progress of the tournament. The use of Spectators is common in Tournaments, since Tournaments function as focal points of interest for a particular game. These characteristics can also create and maintain stable Social Organizations, such as Soccer clubs, around the game itself.


Instantiates: Hierarchy of Goals, Meta Games, Conflict, Perceivable Margins, Strategic Knowledge, Trans-Game Information, Closure Points, Overcome, Tension, Tiebreakers, Replayability, Illusionary Rewards, Multiplayer Games, Tied Results

Modulates: Combat, Asymmetric Abilities, Betting, Player Balance, Social Organizations, Game Mastery

Instantiated by: Last Man Standing, Overcome

Modulated by: Spectators, Self-Facilitated Games, Tiebreakers, Quick Games, Score

Potentially conflicting with: