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Week Five, Game Design


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These slides are for week 5 of Montana Tech Game Design class.

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Week Five, Game Design

  1. 1. From Salen Zimmerman, Rules of Play , Unit 2 RULES AND SCHEMA MontanaTech
  2. 2. Primary Schemas of Games <ul><li>RULES (formal schema) </li></ul><ul><li>PLAY (experiential schema) </li></ul><ul><li>CULTURE (contextual schema) </li></ul><ul><li>This lecture looks at the schema of RULES, where schema is, according to Plato “ important rather than exhaustive information.” In other words, “schema are a way of organizing and framing information.” aka a “model.” </li></ul>
  3. 3. Primary Schemas of Games RULES: Formal Schema PLAY: Experiential CULTURE: Contextual Rules Play Culture
  4. 4. Characteristics of Schema <ul><li>Have variables: They provide a framework/architecture to integrate new information. </li></ul><ul><li>Can embed: They can contain other schemas inside of themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Can represent knowledge at many levels of abstraction. Allow many points of view of same object or phenomenon. </li></ul><ul><li>Represent knowledge rather than definitions: encyclopedic rather than definitional. </li></ul>
  5. 5. A Word or Two About “RULES” <ul><li>Rules are what differentiate games from other kinds of play. Probably the most basic definition of a game is that it is organized play, that is to say rule based. If you don’t have rules you have free play, not a game. </li></ul><ul><li>Marc Pensky, Digital Game-based Learning </li></ul>
  6. 6. Defining Rules <ul><li>When we talk about rules of a game – the formal identity of a game – we are not referring to aesthetic qualities or representational identity. </li></ul><ul><li>Looking purely at the rules of a game means repressing many other fascinating qualities of game play and game culture. ERGO, </li></ul><ul><li>Rules are a *formal*, closed-system framework as opposed to experiential or cultural framework. </li></ul>See example “A Deck of Cards” on page 120
  7. 8. Six Qualities of Rules <ul><li>Rules limit player action. Rules are “sets of instructions” and following those instructions means doing what the rules require and not doing something else instead. </li></ul><ul><li>Rules are explicit and unambiguous. Ambiguity has to be cleared up before you can begin to play. </li></ul><ul><li>Rules are shared by all players. If one player is operating under a different set of rules, the game breaks down. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Six Qualities of Rules, Continued <ul><li>4. Rules are Fixed. Rules do not change as a game is played. Rule changes are highly regulated. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Rules are binding. Part of the “magic” of the magic circle is that the rules contain their own authority. If players do not feel rules are binding, they might cheat or leave the game as “spoil sports.” </li></ul><ul><li>6. Rules are repeatable. Rules are repeatable and portable between sets of players. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Related Levels of Games <ul><li>SZ use non-digital Snakes and Ladders as level egs. </li></ul><ul><li>Constituative Rules – Primary concern here is to guide the behaviour of players. These are the abstract, core mathematical rules. Pg 132. </li></ul><ul><li>Operational Rules – Instructions for players, eg “On your turn, spin the spinner and move your player, square by square, by that number. </li></ul><ul><li>Implicit Rules – (for the most part) unwritten rules of etiquette and behaviour eg, place the board in a place everyone can see. </li></ul><ul><li>Formal meaning of a game emerges through a process that bridges these three levels of rules. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Elegant Rules <ul><li>As a game designer you want players to be focused on the experience of play rather than having to make sense of the rules! </li></ul><ul><li>An essential part of designing rules is creating experiences where elegant rule design maintains proper player focus. </li></ul><ul><li>Elegant rules allow payers to focus on the experience rather than the logic of the rules. </li></ul><ul><li>Designing meaningful play is about building discernable and integrated relationships between action and outcome into all levels of the rules of a game. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Non-Digital vs Digital Games <ul><li>In a general sense the rules of a digital game are also concerned with the actions players take and the outcome of the actions (interactivity). </li></ul><ul><li>Most or all of the program code that makes up a digital game directly or indirectly affects the experience of the game, however, </li></ul><ul><li>The overall “rules” of digital games are related to the program code, but are not the same thing. Rules are abstract tools for thinking and are not necessarily manifest in the code. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Related Levels of Digital Games <ul><li>Constituative Rules: similar to non-digital games. They serve as core logic and are usually contained in the code. Handle internal events. </li></ul><ul><li>Operational Rules: Concerned with both internal and external events of a game – player input and game output. </li></ul><ul><li>Implicit Rules: Eg taking a reasonable amount of time on your turn still applies … but what about glitches? Questioning implicit rules can be a powerful source for design ideas. Pg 148 </li></ul>
  13. 14. Schema (Models) of Rules <ul><li>We can look at rules within these frameworks/models/schema/taxonomies: </li></ul><ul><li>Games as Emergent Systems * </li></ul><ul><li>Games as Systems of Uncertainty </li></ul><ul><li>Games as Information Theory Systems </li></ul><ul><li>Games as Systems of Information </li></ul><ul><li>Games as Cybernetic Systems </li></ul><ul><li>Games as Game Theory Systems * </li></ul><ul><li>Games as Systems of Conflict </li></ul>
  14. 15. Games as Emergent Systems <ul><li>This schema builds directly on the discussion of systems from Week 2.(See next slide). </li></ul><ul><li>In this schema, we deepen our appreciation of games as systems by looking at them in terms of complexity – complex systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers in complexity study many different types of systems, from computational systems of pure information to biological systems such as cells and organisms to natural ecosystems and human society. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Definition of a Game “System” A system can be thought of as a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole. As systems, games provide contexts for interaction. Example, the game of soccer where the players, the ball, the goal nets, the playing field, the fans are all individual elements. Review from Week 2. Page 51.
  16. 17. Four categories of systems <ul><li>Fixed systems. Remain the same forever, relationships between elements never change. Eg A black TV screen. Pg 155. </li></ul><ul><li>Periodic systems. Simple systems that repeat the same patterns endlessly. Eg. Messenger system. Pg 153. </li></ul><ul><li>Complex systems exhibit patterns more complex than repeating periodic systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Chaotic systems behave in a completely random fashion. Eg. TV screen full of static. “Each point uncorrelated with any other point.” </li></ul>Emergent Systems
  17. 18. Fixed Periodic Chaotic Complex Four Categories of Systems
  18. 19. Dietrich Dorner <ul><li>“ A planning and decision making scenario simulated on a computer [game] may be less complex than on in the real world, but it has the great advantage of letting us run our experiments in fast-forward and so of bringing us face to face with our mistakes.” From The Logic of Failure: Recognizing Error in Complex Situations. </li></ul><ul><li>Dorner is a cognitive psychologist. </li></ul>Emergent Systems
  19. 20. Meaningful Play <ul><li>When a game lacks complexity, it also lacks meaningful play. When meaningful play is present in a game, some aspect of the game has achieved complexity </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity ensures that the *space of possibility* of a game is large enough to support meaningful play. </li></ul>Emergent Systems
  20. 21. Emergence <ul><li>Systems that are emergent systems generate unpredictable patterns of complexity from a limited set of rules. </li></ul><ul><li>IN EMERGENT SYSTEMS, THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS. </li></ul><ul><li>Eg. In linguistics, the limited set of rules of grammar cannot account for all the possible statements that might be made in a language. </li></ul>Emergent Systems
  21. 22. John Holland <ul><li>“ Emergence is above all a product of coupled, context dependent interactions. Technically these interactions, and the resulting system, are nonlinear. The behaviour of the overall system cannot be obtained by summing the behaviours of its constitutive parts.” From Emergence. </li></ul><ul><li>Holland is a computer scientist known as the “father of genetic algorithms. </li></ul>Emergent Systems
  22. 23. Emergence <ul><li>In an emergent system, interactions between objects in a system are coupled and context dependent. </li></ul><ul><li>Coupled interactions affect the overall space and pattern of a system as each interaction links to others, and in turn to yet others. </li></ul><ul><li>Context dependent interactions change from moment to moment depending on what is happening in other parts of the system. </li></ul><ul><li>Think about this in terms of your game you studied. </li></ul>Emergent Systems
  23. 24. Coupled interactions affecting the overall space and pattern of this game “system” would be the ball leaving a flipper and then hitting a bumper (scoring)? Context dependent interactions would be the alternative energy targets opening up when the ball gets successfully hurled through the alt energy pipeline chute.
  24. 25. Lori Shyba Acknowledging the Power of Surprises A emergent, complex system of research design made into a game of Phronetic Pinball. By Lori Shyba
  25. 26. Rules and Formal System <ul><li>Although a rules-based approach is not the only way to understand games, it is an indispensable part of a game designer’s conceptual toolset. </li></ul><ul><li>By defining rules and framing games as emergent systems, we lay the groundwork for thinking about games in structural terms. </li></ul><ul><li>The other game design schema all offer approaches about thinking about and designing games as formal systems. </li></ul>Closing word about Rules (for now)