“Good Gamers” as defined by bad games

January 11, 2013

I’ve been having some good conversations with Quinn Murphy recently, and he’s given me a term that works very well for an issue I’ve talked about a lot, though never put a title to – “Structure”. I’ve talked about how many games give you small scale rules without the overarching structure to tie it together – and, well, structure is probably the best damn word for it. (Talking about organized human interactions in specialized ways is difficult – the words should fit the concept, but because you’re talking in a specialized way, there’s always the pitfall of it “sounding” like one thing when you specifically mean another – see the never ending struggle of Narrativism to describe a style of play…)

What I think is striking me as the shift over the last 10 years in terms of modern game design is the recognition that a longstanding problem of traditional games has been leaving structure out while demanding the play group develop, communicate, and coordinate it on their own and explicitly telling people this quality is what makes the difference between a “good gamer” and a “bad gamer”.

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