In the real world conflict lingers around us like a bad odor. Everything we do results in a form of conflict. Some as big as deciding an entire country’s future, or as small as deciding what shoes match your current outfit. One main reason why conflict thrives is because it drives us and in some cases hinder us from performing an action.

In game development conflict can be used to keep the player motivated. If all you had to do to save the earth from the alien invasion was to tell them “Go Home”, i’d imagine that game being short and not as well received as it could have been. Conflict gives choice, do you go down scary tunnel A, or creepy cavern B. Even if these choices are really an illusion they still give the player the sense of them making a decision to break the conflict.

Today we will go over a few conflicts that I find not only in our medium but also others. By no means is this a full list but it should give you a stepping stone to finding other conflicts you can use. Also keep in mind using multiple conflicts in a game isn’t a bad option, it adds variety.


Man vs Self

The first conflict I would like to address is Man vs Self. This can be taken in a number of different approaches. But the core of this conflict is the character doubting themselves. Here the character denies anything having to do with them being special, in a sense devaluing their own self worth.

As stated earlier there are different approaches to this conflict. Such as the case of the character losing grip of reality and battling to get their sanity back, or trying to get physically stronger by battling self doubt.

This form of conflict is for story elements as well as gameplay elements. The story elements could be told through many different genres. Such as the street racer who never wins, or the child who eventually realizes their fear of the dark is all in their head.




Man vs. Nature

Sometimes referred to as man vs. elements, this conflict is one I typically love to create and brainstorm ideas around. Man vs. nature tends to fall in the survival category. This conflict usually involves the weather, terrain, and sometimes animals, starvation, and dehydration.

Man vs nature has been present in a lot of games in different forms. This may be the fact that when their is snow on the ground your car slides farther than normal, or in the case of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, weather determining how you handle different situations. Do you go head first into the roaring current, risking your life as well as the lives of your crew, or do you dock and waste time around town waiting for the storm to pass- missing out on all the booty you could have found in the seas.

This conflict is great for story elements as well as aesthetics. Its even better in the form of gameplay. It can add realism, challenge, and another element to think about while trying to survive the other elements of the game.


Man vs. Man

This conflict we see all the time. If you have ever played a fighting game, a shooter, or an RPG then you’ve experienced this conflict. Are you better than the person you’re up against? Will you overcome the odds and win the fighting tournament?

This conflict just like the others have a few different approaches. The main requires there to be two humans contesting in an event or performing an action. Even walking around shooting pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto counts as man vs man. In this day and age man vs man is exceptionally common. It spans across any and all genres. Even sports games consist solely on man to man. Even aliens, elves, or robots could count as the man equations as man vs man. (Though in the case of robots, you straddle the line into man vs. machine, a conflict for another day)



Conflicts in games is essential. The player will always want something to do or to see.  Using these core conflicts as well as others will allow you to make a truly deep and fulfilling game. Other conflicts such as man vs machine, man vs society and man vs the supernatural, and man vs fate are also conflicts that add further depth. Each, like the others, have their own approaches.

I hope this helps you all through your game development journey. If you want to mention any other conflict types you are fond of please leave them in the comments. Have a great day everyone!


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