If Game is the thing you repeat, then what is the difference between Pattern and Game?
Game is funny/interesting/heartfelt.
A Pattern (an empty pattern, anyway) isn’t.
I respectfully suggest that this needs a little bit more clarification. A Game is a Pattern, but it’s a pattern of human behavior that’s fun to play around with and helps provide structure to a scene. At its broadest, a pattern is anything repeated. 2, 4, 6, 8 is a pattern. But a bunch of improvisors counting off by twos is not interesting. If you inject some behavior, emotion, relationship, or human reaction into a pattern, you have the beginnings of a game.
I agree with this clarification. A pattern is anything you do more than once. I would say a game is a specific dynamic between two people with a distinct rhythm. For example, the sadder I am, the happier you are and the happier you are, the sadder I am. We feed each other’s behavior consistently, but we can also heighten the game. It doesn’t matter what the context and the details are because that dynamic can be taken and applied to an analogous circumstance. Game has to do with behavior, but emotions and stakes (and point of view and philosophy) are certainly involved.
I’m sure different schools and generations have different answers, and I can’t wait to see the reblog thread continue. That said, my take is: game is the central funny thing that we heighten and explore. Pattern is, well, any pattern. Chris Farley’s motivational speaker sketch has a game of “bad motivational speaker.” But there are many patterns: the way Farley continually gets in people’s faces, the way he keeps saying “Van down by the river!”, etc., none of which ever take focus the way “bad motivational speaker” takes focus. In fact, those patterns serve the game.
How this distinction has been important and helpful to me: if I play a character in a scene, I want to create a cohesive series of patterns (think Farley adjusting his belt, hunching over when he talks, even the way he talks) that combine to create a recognizable, consistent character. But I still need that character to play the game, which is separate (that’s all the specific details that make him a bad motivational speaker).
You could take many of the same patterns (especially around Farley’s character) and play a different game (say, bad gym teacher, or bad bedtime storyteller). Or you could take the same game and play it with different patterns (he could be a bad motivational speaker in so many different ways).
Again, that’s just my interpretation, but it’s an interpretation that’s been practical and useful for me getting better at improv and generating sketches.