Turn Taking

Turn Taking

Letting one player do some action or actions before letting the other players act.

Many games only let one player act at a time. This makes the evaluation of actions in the game by the players themselves easier, since they can supervise each other and it lets all players focus on the others' actions. Further it lets each player have control over what to do without having to keep track of what the other players are doing at the same time.

Example: in Puerto Rico a turn consists of each player choosing an action in a sequential order. The action chosen by the first player is performed by all players before the next action is chosen and so on until all players have chosen actions.

Example: Diplomacy is a turn-based game without Turn Taking as all players do their turns simultaneously.

Example: Golf uses Turn Taking where the player the farthest from the hole always has the turn until all players have hit the ball into the hole.

Example: Spin the Bottle uses randomness to determine whose turn it is next and players may play a complete game session without having a turn.

Using the pattern

Turn Taking in Turn-Based Games may occur on many levels and is more often done in rounds, segments, and phases than in turns. This allows players more chances to perform actions, including interrupting Interruptible Actions and increasing possibilities for reasonable waiting times in Synchronous Games, and can modulate actions such as Capture. Many times the Turn Taking for interrupting actions is not explicitly called out in game play every time they occur but players have to individually claim them within a reasonable Time Limit.

The order in which Turn Taking takes place can be varied in several different ways. The Turn Taking can be constructed so that every player gets one turn before the Turn Taking process begins to repeat or is reset (with possible Ultra-Powerful Events interjected), that players can have several turns as long as they have some form of Limited Resource, or simply uses continuously use Randomness to determine who has the next turn. Having each player get one turn in a larger cycle provides a sequential turn-taking cycle with the round-robin sequences as the most common and causing "hit left; dodge right"patterns to emerge. Other sequential orders can be produced by Bidding or by measuring Resources or Score values, of which the latter can be used to have Balancing Effects.

Turn Taking in Real-Time Games is not common and most often reserved for Negotiation in Trading where players must do some form of Resource Management to conduct the trade. Putting a Time Limit on a player in Turn Taking creates a form of sequential Tick-Based Game. It is also possible to construct sort of Tournaments from Quick Games by allowing the players to take turns in playing their game instances and comparing the overall results.


Turn Taking can both relieve and create Tension. The relief for a player can come in the form of not having to consider that The Show Must Go On while it is the player's turn and in the form of having Downtime when it is not the player's turn. Tension can be created by the possibility for Analysis Paralysis due to Risk/Rewards choices during the player's turn and by Hovering Closure s and Anticipation while it is not. Having Turn Taking may cause the players not having their turn to have Downtime, which can be used to gain Game State Overview or act as Spectators to the active player's actions in order to deduce possible secret tacticsand Unknown Goals.

In games where the order in which Turn Taking takes place players may have two turns after each other. These flip-flop events usually give significant advantages to the player and if they can be the cause of Stimulated Planning this is one way to achieve Game Mastery in the game.

Turn Taking can be enforced by Dedicated Game Facilitators but also exist in most Self-Facilitated Games. As the other players can help and supervise the actual handling of physical game elements used by the active player, Turn Taking supports Self-Facilitated Games and may let every player take part in Storytelling or let every players temporarily take the role of the Game Masters.

Turn Taking can be used to create civilized Negotiation, for example in Bidding, and thereby encourage less pressurized Social Interaction.


Instantiates: Spectators, Stimulated Planning, Tick-Based Games, Self-Facilitated Games, Anticipation, Interruptible Actions, Downtime, Tension, Social Interaction, Analysis Paralysis, Game State Overview, Hovering Closures, Turn-Based Games

Modulates: Bidding, Capture, Unknown Goals, Synchronous Games, Negotiation, Game Mastery, Storytelling

Instantiated by: Dedicated Game Facilitators, Game Masters

Modulated by: Time Limits, Resources, Quick Games, Limited Resources, Ultra-Powerful Events, Balancing Effects, Score, Bidding

Potentially conflicting with: Real-Time Games, Tension, The Show Must Go On