topical media & game development

talk show tell print

pattern(s) / matrix / model(s) / resource(s)

Closed Economies

Closed Economies

A game design which makes the number of a certain type of resources fixed during entire game sessions, although the resources may take different forms or have different status during that period.

Closed Economies in games mean that there is no production of resources within the game system and that the resources do not leave the game system. These resources, however, are free to circulate within the game system and they can be transformed into other resources and game elements during the gameplay.

Example: the deck of cards in Poker forms a Closed Economy as no new cards are produced during the gameplay and no cards are removed from play between the rounds. The bets used in Poker are also a kind of Closed Economy; only the distribution of these resources among the players changes during the gameplay.

Using the pattern

Closed Economies are easier to create when the Resources used during the game cannot be converted to other types of Resources. In these cases it is usually the distribution of these Resources among the different players that is used as the main variation in the gameplay, as are for example the cases with Poker and other Betting games using Closed Economies.

Although the number of Resources is fixed in Closed Economies, the distribution of them can vary and sometimes the possibility of variation is modulated by restricting the number of potential owners of the Resources. This can be used as an end condition for game sessions: the players who run out of their Resources are removed from play through Player Elimination.

More complex cases of Closed Economies are found in games where the Resources can be converted to other types of Resources through the use of Converters. If this conversion can be cyclical, i. e. that Resource A can be converted to Resource B and later Resource B can be converted to Resource A, the conversion rate has to be symmetrical. In more complex cases the number of Resources may differ, but for the system to be a Closed Economy the original distribution of Resources must be achieved, providing a form of Reversability even though other parts of the game state may have changed. The conversion of initial Resources to other Resources can also be used as an end condition for the game: when all or a certain amount of the initial Resources are converted the game or the mode of play ends.


Closed Economies make the use of Resources independent of the number of that kind of Resource in a game. This makes them into Renewable Resources from the players' perspective although they are Non-Renewable Resources from a game design level.

The games with Closed Economies usually impose a kind of Time Limit to game instances as Closed Economies easily grind to halt either when the Resource distribution among the players becomes unbalanced or when there are no further favorable possibilities for converting the available Resources.


Instantiates: Reversability, Player Elimination, Renewable Resources

Modulates: Resources

Instantiated by: Transfer of Control, Betting, Non-Renewable Resources

Modulated by:

Potentially conflicting with:

[] readme course(s) preface I 1 2 II 3 4 III 5 6 7 IV 8 9 10 V 11 12 afterthought(s) appendix reference(s) example(s) resource(s) _

(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

You may not copy or print any of this material without explicit permission of the author or the publisher. In case of other copyright issues, contact the author.