Persistent Gameworld

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This is a proposed entry.
This entry is currently being proposed as a permanent part of the ontology. It should be considered a draft and not really part of the "official" ontology.

Changes effected in the gameworld, either by the player or by other entities are non-reversible via out-of-games means.

List of questions:

  • Is the permanent change important to gameplay or merely cosmetic?
  • Can non-player controlled entities cause changes in the gameworld that are persistent?


Strong Examples

Animal Crossing

In Animal Crossing, the player can chop down trees as well as plant new ones. Whenever a tree is chopped down, it ceases to exist in the gameworld. In fact, if the player were to chop down all the trees, the town in which his character lives would become barren until the player planted a new one. Managing the landspace (weeding, planting and chopping trees) is an important part of the game if the player wishes his town to achieve "perfect status" (which confers certain a certain bonus).

Payphone Warriors

Perhaps the strongest example of persistent gameworlds is found in pervasive games where the real world is a gameworld. In the pervasive game Payphone Warriors, teams earn points for controling payphones within a certain geographic area. Teams gain control of a payphones by calling the game's server from said payphone. If something were to happen to a payphone to affect its functionality during the course of the game (car accident, service outage, etc.), the gameworld has been permamently altered until it is fixed.

X3: Reunion

Like its prequel, X2: The Threat, the player interacts with and influences the X universe both directly and indirectly. The X universe includes a highly realistic economic model that affects supply and demand of goods, equipment, ships, etc. available to the player and NPCs that actively go on trading, producing/manufacturing, and fighting. Further more, as the game progresses, the player can gain increasing influence by purchasing and constructing their own space stations and build their own financial and/or military empire that dynamically affects the X Universe, depending on how you manage your resources. Thus, while the universe is the same when you start the game, the gameworld and resulting gameplay changes progressively as time elapses.

Weak Examples

Ultima Online

In the MMO Ultima Online, players can buy and build on their own plots of land within the game. These changes are not only permanent, but they also affect the other players of the game since Ultima Online has one shared gameworld for all. This game is a weak example however because certain things, such as particular enemy encounters, are not permanent. Once a particularly important monster is defeated, it is only a matter of time before it "respawns".

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, players can do things which alter the gameworld, such as the turf wars in the initial city. Despite both the ability to limit the number of opposing gang members and find them, and the ability to alter the gameworld to fit the storyline, the game is still primarily dictated by the randomly-generated aspects, such as the vehicles, pedestrians, and police.

Relations with other elements of the Ontology



  • None