Patterns in Game Design

Staffan Bjork, Jussi Holopainen






Patterns in Game Design provides professional and aspiring game designers with a collection of practical design choices that are possible in all types of games. These choices, called patterns, are used to illustrate the varying types of gameplay found in games. For the purposes of this book, gameplay is defined as the structures of player interaction with the game system and interaction with other players. This includes the possibilities, results, and reasons for players to play. By putting these elements of gameplay into practical patterns, designers have access to a common set of concepts that can be used by all developers, allowing game projects to be approached with more standard tools. These patterns help designers put their concepts and ideas into words, which makes communication between members much easier. The patterns also help with making design choices, understanding how other games work, and inspiring game ideas.

The book itself is divided into two main parts. The first part covers the theoretical aspects of describing games and defining the template used to develop the game design patterns. The second part includes the actual patterns divided into chapters based on the aspect of gameplay they cover. The patterns can be used in any order and referenced as you would a dictionary. By studying these various game design patterns, designers learn about the choices they’ll have to make when using a pattern in their own designs, and they’ll gain an understanding of what gameplay is, so that they can design better games.


  • Provides a practical collection of game design patterns that facilitate any type of game design
  • Defines a common language designers can use to talk concisely about the essence of games
  • Teaches the basic concepts of gameplay through the study of design patterns
  • Includes ready-to-use, customizable patterns
  • Emphasizes design methodology as a style that is independent of the technology covered
  • Includes a CD-ROM with an easy-to-use collection of patterns from the book (200+ total), slides for a series of introductory lectures, and PDF versions of the patterns in quick card form


  • Game Design Pattern Collection - Includes over 200 patterns from the book in HTML-format, cross-referenced for easy searching by chapter or alphabetically using a standard Web browser
  • Pattern Cards - Includes PDF versions of the patterns with concise pattern descriptions that can be printed as individual cards. These short descriptions are designed to be used as reminders and pointers to the full descriptions
  • Presentation Slides - Includes a set of PowerPoint™ slides using the patterns as a teaching tool for workshops, lectures, etc.