Transfer of Control

Transfer of Control

When the influence over a game element is passed from one player to another.

Many games let game elements, or the control over the actions they allow, shift between players. This Transfer of Control makes the ownership of game elements less sure in the game and provides players with goals of trying to change the ownership status of game elements.

Example: Trading in the board game Civilization allows players to collect series of a commodities, which can then be used to purchase advances.

Example: The special ability of Priests in Age of Empires is to transfer the control of enemy units to the player controlling the Priests.

Using the pattern

Resources are the most common type of game element that may shift between different players' control, followed by Tools and Units. Transfer of Control also addressed which player has Area Control over various parts of the game board or world. Gain Ownership and Collection goals require Transfer of Control events to occur, but the Transfer of Control does not have to be between players; the control can go from being uncontrolled, or controlled by the game system, to a player or vice versa. Collecting is an activity that gives a player control over game elements that in most cases are not under any other player's control. Penalties of losing Resources or Tools, and the Ability Losses these cause, are examples of Transfer of Control from players to an uncontrolled state.

If the Transfer of Controls are Irreversible Actions and the Resources involved are Limited Resources or Non-Renewable Resources, the action of transferring control defines a sort of Closure Point. If Reversability of the control transversal is possible, either between players or between players and the game system, this makes the Resources used Renewable Resources, as a Closed Economy exists.

Transfer of Control can be modulated to encourage players to specialize in a few game element types or spread control over many types. Geometric Rewards for Investments encourage players to focus upon one or a few game elements, while Privileged Abilities, Diminishing Returns, and explicit heterogeneous Collections all favor wider spreads of control.

The actions leading to Transfer of Control can either be based on Collaborative Actions or Conflict although the former can lead to the latter. Negotiation is an example that enables Collaborative Actions regarding control transfer through such actions as Trading or Bidding. Betting is similar but lies closer to Conflict. Overcome and Capture goals are pure examples of Conflict and are most often conducted through Combat.

Transfer of Control does not have to be total. By giving other players some control, the control can become shared and require Collaborative Actions such as Bidding. Another form of making Transfer of Control less total is by introducing some form of reversed transfer. Examples of this occur naturally in Trading but may be enforced in Bidding by distributing the Resources used for the Betting to the players who do not win the bet. This form of reciprocal transfer usually has Balancing Effects but also allows players to have Strategic Knowledge about the difference in values between the transferred game elements or actions.


Transfer of Control provides means of changing Ownership of game elements during gameplay. This can provide Varied Gameplay for players, as it means that New Abilities or Privileged Abilities that are unavailable other times can be available for players. Depending on how the Transfer of Control can be done, the presence of the possibility of it gives rise to Negotiation or Conflict. Both gaining control and losing control of game elements easily causes Emotional Immersion.


Instantiates: Conflict, Strategic Knowledge, Collaborative Actions, Emotional Immersion, Closed Economies, Varied Gameplay, Closure Points, Collecting, Privileged Abilities, New Abilities, Area Control, Ownership

Modulates: Units, Resources, Non-Renewable Resources, Tools

Instantiated by: Bidding, Trading, Capture, Overcome, Betting, Negotiation, Gain Ownership, Collection

Modulated by: Irreversible Actions, Non-Renewable Resources, Diminishing Returns, Geometric Rewards for Investments, Balancing Effects, Renewable Resources

Potentially conflicting with: