19 December, 2009

A New Gaming Theory and Lexicon

I've been a member of The Forge for a few years now. One of the things that took me a while to adjust to in that gropup was the usage of specific terms that describe elements of gaming theory. The problem is that many of these existing terms have a different usage in common language, or they are used to describe something in a way that just doesn't quite give a good mesh between the actual word and the element being described.

Story Games is always quick to shoot down someone when they mention Gamism, Narritivism or Simulationism...and whether the motives are honourable or not, I think it's good that they do this, because the words in themselves are poorly defined (or hold different definitions to different people). Confucius began one of his books by saying that much conflict in the world derived simply from a lack of shared definitions, that a common language would prevent many of the world's wars.

I've hinted that I'm working on a new theorum of game design. Not quite ignoring the "Big Model" or continued work of Ron Edwards, I'm trying to dig at the methods of play, the interaction of mechanisms, the structure of story and the reflection of what people put into a game compared to what they expect in return for their investment (and conversely what they actually get for their return).

Andrew Smith has pointed out that the work of Ron Edwards comes from an anthropological viewpoint. This seems a fair comment, and is certainly an appropriate manner by which a social pastime ould be analysed. But anthropology has a nasty tendency to pigeonhole people and when people don't fully understand the nature of the labels being applied to them, they can react badly to the description. The "Big Model" and it's subtheories tend

I'm more interested in the work of John Kirk, and his Design Patterns of Successful Role Playing Games, which has been circulating the game design community for a few years now. I've mentioned it a couple of times in this blog and it';s been a really influential part of my own game design techniques over the past two years since I've been made aware of it. An updated second edition of the book was also made available this year.

I'm not sure if I'm just going to be treading the same ground with my own work, or if I'll develop an interesting fusion with a fresh perspective. I'm hoping that I strike something revolutionary and special in my approach, something that might inspire a new generation of designers...but that would just be a welcome side effect. The theory is intrinsically a method to clarify the process of assorted roleplaying games, to analyse what goes well and what goes wrong within a variety of game types and play styles.

It's not going to be easy, and I'm sure there will be discussions and arguments along the way, but that's going to be my project for 2010.
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