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Vincent’s 3 Problems

February 14, 2012

Over on Anyway, Vincent talks about 3 Problems, or, what I’ve often labeled “hurdles”. I’ve written about these issues before.

Parallels in games to consider:

Magic the Gathering (Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh…)
– Opaque content
– Good Social Footprint (20-30 min games, portable)
– Constructive procedures

Roller Derby
– Clear content (I’d argue most physical sports are like this.)
– Oppressive Social Footprint (regular practice, sizable team, specialized gear) BUT – social reward – mini celebrity status, etc.
– Constructive procedures

Most AAA Videogames
– Opaque content
– Humane Social Footprint (1 person, when you want to play, save when you want to stop)
– Constructive procedures

Casual videogames
– Simple content (there’s not much you need to learn for these games in terms of fluff/lore)
– Minimum social footprint (play for 3 minute chunks)
– Constructive procedures

Forum/PBP rpgs
– Opaque content (usually based on a licensed property, and with deep lore amongst the players)
– Humane social footprint (write a forum post semi-regularly, no one has to gather at the same time to play. )
– ??? Procedures?
I think the usual defaults of freeform, either GM-says or group-says probably aren’t that constructive, but given the super low social footprint and the ease of dropping out, or finding other games to jump into, and the social context of a strong fandom, maybe those make up the difference?

I think ultimately what these hurdles come down to is two aspects: How hard is it to start playing, and how well does it keep people playing? These are all design issues and certainly other games have addressed them before.

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