Featuring a completely contrived but interesting Four Layer Model for Gameplay
So, I create LARP experiences, design games and the like. That means I think a lot about what makes something a game, and I like teasing out how systems work. Sometimes I do this just for fun, and sometimes it reveals some important things we should keep in mind when we are designing, running and playing games with each other, since there are some great games as World of Warcraft which people enjoy a lot, and they even buy WoW Classic gold to get items in these games.
A few years ago, I started unpacking the difference between a system and a game after reading the seminal and amazing book Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, a weighty 777 page tome about mathematics, rules and the nature of systems. And in spinning out these ideas, I came up with some categories of what goes into designing and playing a game. And I came to a beautifully weird conclusion –
I don’t design games. No one designs games.
We design systems – and we might suggest, cajole, pressure and clear our throats while nudging our head in the direction of how they might be turned into a game. But only a player can choose which game they play.
Beyond that, as a designer, I’m powerless. And that’s wonderfully humbling and utterly frightening.
Unpacking the Game Box
Now, going up to a game designer and telling them they don’t design games is a pretty bold move. It depends on a lot of definitions of what a game means, what rules mean, what a system means; and my choices of definitions here are just one option among many. But I think they tell us something useful about how playing games really works.Continue reading “You don’t design games, no one does”