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<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-anticipation.html>Anticipation</a>


The feeling of being able to predict future game events in the games to which one has emotional attachments.

Many games allow player to anticipate possible future game events. However, players only feel Anticipation about these future events if they have some emotional investment, either that the future events are something that they planned and strived for or that the future events concern characters in a narrative structure that the players care for.

Example: The presence of traces in the environment of enemies in first-person shooters gives players a strong anticipation that combat will occur soon.

Example: Anticipation is common in roleplaying games when players have planned the development of their characters and they near points where the characters will advance.

Using the pattern

Anticipation can occur through Narrative Structures or the developing game state but both cases require Predictable Consequences and some form of specific Immersion, most commonly Emotional Immersion. However, Anticipation can negatively affect Immersion in general as players have to abstractly predict the possible future events. One example where Anticipation can be created through Spatial Immersion is Game World Navigation. Cognitive Immersion can likewise give Anticipation when linked to foreseeing the completion of goals.

As players easily have Emotional Immersion in future Rewards, Delayed Effects and Hovering Closures easily create Anticipation, for example, through Betting. Rewards linked to Player Defined Goals and Planned Character Development are especially suitable for creating Anticipation, as they are chosen by players themselves and the players choose them for their emotional values. The Anticipation can be further modulated by limiting the affect that the players can have through Turn Taking and Downtime in general. Setting Time Limits for player actions and effects also increases Anticipation when the limit is clearly indicated to the players.

When Anticipation is misguided, i. e., the expected result does not occur, the resulting feeling of frustration or disappointment can be modulated by Near Miss Indicators.


Anticipation creates Emotional Immersion but requires some specific form of Immersion to be already present. Anticipation is closely linked to Tension, but where Tension is primarily concerned with the negative aspects of uncertainty, Anticipation instead deals with the sense of being able to predict game events. A typically case when both coincide is Delayed Reciprocity, where the Anticipation may be both that of fulfillment of agreements and that of Betrayal. Examples where Anticipation can exist without Tension include Ultra-Powerful Events such as those that occur in games where The Show Must Go On.

Surprises are naturally difficult to closely link to Anticipation, except when modulated by Red Herrings or Imperfect Information. Analysis Paralysis is often caused by players being able to notice too many possible future game states, and thereby makes Anticipation of any of them difficult.


Instantiates: Emotional Immersion

Modulates: Tension

Instantiated by: Predictable Consequences, Spatial Immersion, Cognitive Immersion, Emotional Immersion, Downtime, Rewards, Turn Taking, Betting, Delayed Effects, Player Defined Goals, Planned Character Development, Delayed Reciprocity, Hovering Closures, Ultra-Powerful Events, Narrative Structures

Modulated by: Time Limits, Near Miss Indicators, Betrayal, Imperfect Information, Red Herrings

Potentially conflicting with: Surprises, Analysis Paralysis

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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