King-making

Game design issue that occurs in competitive games for more than two players when one's result is not dependent on one's performance.

Usage

Especially visible with three players: when two players get ahead and only them have chance of victory, the third one will be able decide who of the two wins the game. The main problem is for players to lose the game even when playing very well (but seemingly against more opponents). King-making may occur also just by an accident.

Game designers consider how much to allow for king-making. The problem is often dependent on mechanics of negative interaction as the easiest way to make one player win is to hurt a common opponent. The second risk factor is to require every player to stay in the game to the very end. Avoiding the effect might be done for example by hidden scoring which allows every player to keep hopes for the win until the final counting. Games may also specifically allow for king-making, but then they start to be "about it" — they become games of politics.

In music games sharp competitive edge is not that common, but the term can be applied loosely to many smaller interactions that heavily influence the experience. The questions to be asked could then be: does the game encourage cliques (for example of people with shared musical taste) that interact only with one another and exclude other players? Is skill important? How much the game will be spoiled by unskillful actions of one player?

Other game design terms:


Mark for clarification

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