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Don’t hide fun

March 9, 2013

Years back, Clinton R. Nixon said something along the lines of (paraphrasing from memory): “If there’s a way to make the game not fun, why would you do that?” referring to social contracts and people in play.

I’ve been thinking about game texts, how many on my shelf tell you how the rules work, but not why you, as a player should care about rule A or rule B in the larger context of play. I’m realizing most of the quicksheets I write are not just how the rules work, but also “Here’s what you should do – which mechanical rewards to pursue, which situations to seek/avoid, to get to the fun part of play.”

Basically, it jumps the first 1-3 sessions of system mastery that players have to get through to even know what the hell they’re supposed to be doing with the system.

But… if you’re a game designer, why would you make the players have to flail around to find the fun in your game?

Understandably, in competitive games, you generally don’t explain all the higher level strategies because working that out is a part of the competition – but given the amount of games which are not Gamist, but Sim or Narrativist in design… hiding those things is counterproductive to getting to the fun part of play.

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