King-making problem

Occurs in competitive games for more than two players when one's result is not dependent on one's performance.

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 one against two or more).

Game designers should consider how much they should allow for king-making. The problem is often dependent on negative interaction as the easiest way to make one player win is to hurt his or her 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 that" and become games of politics.

In music games 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? Or: how much the game will be spoiled for one player by unskillful actions of another?

Other game design terms:

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