TINAG, which stands for This is Not a Game, can be defined as "the concept that there are pervasive games, often ARGs, that are designed to immerse players in such a way that they suspend their disbelief in a fictional narrative and act like the world they have entered is real during their play time" (Pohjola 2004). Many designers and educators want to create games that appear real, but they are unsure of how to accomplish this. Increasing TINAG allows designers to create more realistic games while taking advantage of the many benefits that TINAG experiences offer. The purpose of this research was to identify and validate design patterns that enhance TINAG. As part of this research, design patterns to increase TINAG in ARG and PCS games were identified and presented. After defining the design patterns, workshops were completed to validate the design patterns and their usefulness to designers. We were able to verify that both novice and more experienced designers are able to understand the design patterns and apply them, with a few exceptions. We found that the design patterns were helpful tools, especially when used in group settings. All of the design patterns could be used and applied to a PCS and the designers felt like they would be impactful. This suggests that they are applicable to non ARG contexts, even though they were generated primarily from PCSs. Participants were drawn to design patterns that help create more authenticity and give players tools to succeed because they agreed that TINAG can increase transfer of learning into real context (Balzotti & Hansen, 2019). We imagine these design patterns could be used to help designers of ARGs, educational simulations, or escape rooms, or other experienced that have the goal of feeling real or authentic.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





ARG, playable case study, TINAG, design pattern, game, game design



Included in

Engineering Commons