This is Raphkoster's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Raphkoster's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Raphkoster
Recent Activity
Firstly, I am extremely curious as to why you think you lost the war over 'game', or indeed why you think the war is over, and whether you think this piece a strategem within that war. No, I don’t think that this is really part of that war… I do think the war is largely over in that it’s not particularly getting discussed. It wasn’t really a valid war to begin with; “game” was never going to fit inside solely one definition, and what happened, I think, is that those of us who were trying to use it in any formal sense all retreated to nonce terms despite the virtues of using the word “game.” None of us wanted to associated with the idea of gatekeeping, as that was never the intent, so nonce words served our purposes for discussion. As to why it was lost… well, we are in what I would term a moment of strong reader-response, subjective perspective, experiential thinking, and have been for quite some time. I have no quarrel with that as a lens, as long as it is a lens people are able to put down sometimes in order to look at things in other ways. The weaknesses of solely addressing things on that basis seem quite self-evident to me: where they force a focus on player experience, for example, they also tend to reduce focus on the game-as-object. It’s a lens that tends to push people away from seeing sports, or tabletop, as being games in the same sense, while instead pushes a sort of digital interactivity primacy, which often leans strongly towards narrative. As William Huber put it to me recently, “most videogames aren’t games,” which I think is exactly right in one sense of game (he was not making the statement in an exclusionary fashion either, I hasten to add, but rather making a humorous comment). So: virtually no one in formalist games analysis wants to be exclusionary, it was clear that some players were seizing on formalist arguments to be exclusionary, culture wars exploded, and the prevailing current is around non-ludic digital experiences… it just made sense to use other words instead. I suppose the broad position I am taking here does not seem to me a boundary claim as it is a distinction between two applications of game - the game that is played, which has an extremely strong claim to being 'the game', and what I call the 'game artefact', and you call the 'ludic artefact', which has a clear parallel claim to being 'the game' in certain cases like tabletop, pinball, videogames etc. Both things are games... but not in the same sense of the word 'game', of course. ;) Right; I might term those a ludic *process* and a ludic artifact. But I would go further and say that when players engage in a ludic process, they effectively construct a ludic artifact in their heads. Your claim that 'play occurs within systems' seems unproblematic to me. This piece rests on the recognition that those systems can be described or translated in different ways. Rules are one translation of those systems. Player practices, however, are what players actually do and are not a translation of the system as such. On the contrary, I might claim: any description of the system is a translation of the player practices. I’d disagree. I regard, for example, physics as part of the “rules” of typical physical sports. Real world physics is not a translation of the player practices; it exists a priori, and instead, players reach accommodation with it, construct their practices around it. That’s why I said that looking at sports, and really, at early forms of physical contests and practice, is maybe a better way of looking at what rules do. Sports basically impose goals on physics (and tokens), and additional rules that bound the physics problem. The crucial point, that this piece doesn't engage with, is that as game designers manipulating the system (as rules or otherwise) is a powerful way to work. My challenge to all game designers is: understand the player practices and your job becomes easier, since the toughest part of getting those systems to form enjoyable games with their players is getting them to be able to play in the first place, which is made easier by recognising which player practices are already there to be drawn against. You won’t get any disagreement whatsoever from me on this point. In fact, what your comment really suggests to me is that I ought to explain how design on that basis can function, since that might truly throw this topic into a different light and (with luck!) provide another tool for canny game designers to wield with skill and artifice. I am not sure it’s as different a light as you think; the game grammar style approaches have always been strongly cognizant of player practices, in my opinion, just through particular lenses. In particular, of course, as you have commented on previously, the learning aesthetic that is inherent in Dan Cook’s arcs, the stuff in Theory of Fun, and even the work on various types of emotional responses that we see in very different forms in Bura and in Lazzaro. Lately, I’ve done some work on what I would call rhetorics or semiotics of mechanics and tying them back to specific sorts of player practices and specific sorts of play outcomes. The core of your argument here is that given that different systems can encourage or discourage play, it is plausible those systems can be described atomically. But those descriptions are translations, and given that language (whether human or machine) can and is atomic in its construction, your claim is practically tautological. That is not a dismissal: as Wittgenstein makes clear, it is the tautological nature of logic that is precisely what gives it its usefulness. In at least this sense, I can agree with you! :) I think you are a little hung up on “the description” here. What I was getting at is that we know that a given system can encourage or discourage play. We should be able to describe *why* atomically. That’s a different locus of emphasis than focusing on the fact that any description is perforce atomic. You also make a couple of other interesting claims. Firstly, that sports are a better place to start thinking about the nature of rules than tabletop... if by rules we mean those translations of player practices that establish what constitutes cheating, absolutely - sports are hugely more normative than tabletop games. This is my point about the difficulty of changing the rules of those games. I meant something different, as mentioned above. Players can’t change physics, but they can change other aspects of the rules system. In tabletop, players can change certain *kinds* of physics. In digital games, it depends on what the software has implemented. Secondly, that Minecraft's regimes of play are about goals not rules. Here, I must put the onus on you to explain why goals are not rules, and why the conditions of build mode or exploration mode can possibility constitute goals when they entail no end state. I suspect you have an interesting distinction here that you need to disclose! :) Simply put, because they originate in the player not the system. You have a system which enables play – this means, it is a system that actually *has* play to it, that has fluctuations and variability. It may be anywhere from fixed ranges or easily mapped decision trees up to chaotic or emergent and highly variable. People tend to call the lower end of that “puzzle.” The system may then suggest a goal to a player and even provide metrics and an end state. If it does, people tend to call it a “game.” If it doesn’t, and simply provides a play space with no goals, terms vary; sometimes game, sometimes not. If there is a token of some sort within the system, it tends to get called a “toy.” But nearly universally, when presented with a “toy” or a “play space,” players begin to take that ludic system and design ludic artifacts out of it: how many times you can throw the tennis ball against the wall and catch it. Even the most freeform of play is built out of goals: constantly shifting ones. And even the most directed of games is premised on the idea that the player voluntarily takes up the suggested goal. So goals, for me, are in the player’s head, which I suspect aligns well with what you are saying about player practices. Goals, in fact, are also what Meier calls interesting choices – because games are made out of games, and they nest. So interim goals are goals just as much as win conditions are. For me, I have used 'rule' in this piece in a very broad sense, as the text elements of a translation of the play of a game (or, equivalently, of the written description of a system for play). In this sense, a goal is just a particular kind of rule - the kind that sets an end state. I tend to like Salen & Zimmerman’s three types: • Constituative rules are the ones that are mathematical. Fall and die. Make contact with an enemy whilst at a higher screen-space position, enemy dies. • Operational rules are what is printed in the instructions. • Implicit rules are unstated rules of behavior (no smashing the console when you die). I wrote a post years ago about how I saw their applicability to rules vs mechanics, at Ian Schreiber’s request: https://www.raphkoster.com/2011/12/13/rules-versus-mechanics/ As ever, it is always a pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage you with an argument! I would be interested in taking this further... although it may have to wait until Spring 2018. Always fun :)
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2017 on Are Videogames Made of Rules? at ihobo
1 reply
So much right and so much to quarrel with! But I am in a phone which limits the amount of typing I will do. Let me suggest to you that play, as a process, occurs within systems, almost inevitably -- constructed or naturally occurring ones. And systems most certainly can be described by rules, though often they are complex enough that we can't actually do so. (We play in the system of physics, but we certainly cannot describe all of physics, only parts of it. In fact, I think that sports, as likely the earliest games, are a better starting point for thinking of the nature of rules than tabletop is). Further, let me suggest that there is a lot of evidence that there are characteristics of specific systems that encourage play, and characteristics of others that seem to discourage it, as a practice. Which suggests that perhaps there is something structural there, something that perhaps can be described atomically. None of this is incompatible with the Suits-like approach of describing play as a process or the DeKoven-like idea of it residing between players. Rather, what happens is a turf war over terms such as "game." I've given up on the turf war at this point; it's been won, or lost, depending on your preference. (Lost, in my case!) I use the term "ludic artifact" now, which means the constructed system within which play occurs. And in thinking about those, rules are certainly a useful term and concept. In fact, your Minecraft example is entirely about the presence and absence of externally imposed *goals*, not rules. And we have had that approach since, well, forever, on playgrounds. A better statement of Juul and Sicart's argument might be that software encodes the constituative rules (in the Salen and Zimmerman sense) more rigidly than table top does (though less so than physics does for physical sports); the other types of rules (they define three) remain negotiable.
Toggle Commented Sep 21, 2017 on Are Videogames Made of Rules? at ihobo
1 reply
"was happy to rediscover that libraries here in the civilised world have - books." Library funding has been decreasing for years. " "Your juicer is already Internet-connected" nope I am not some hipster arsehole." You should re-read that paragraph. The point is that whatever you put IN your juicer (or, if you have no juicer -- I don't -- whatever you drink, frankly, that isn't tap water) was enabled to get to you by the Internet. ""The only difference between my solar panels and a hydroelectric dam" is you are an idiot. Why have the things if you still rely on the grid?" 1) That's about an actual fundamental similarity between means of power generation. 2) It reduces costs. 3) There's a lot of regulation in different jurisdictions; many *require* you to be on the grid. ""humans are just Things too." well yes thats why your GOP put trump in. " Not MY gop, that's for sure. :P ""If Google went down for a month, I am pretty sure we would see worldwide economic collapse." Well now.. which bits? The bits that support you? Oh dear." No, the bits that support most of the businesses you use every day and depend on. "We might even give you your missing consonant matey." I actually have that consonant you are thinking of! It comes at the end of the actual full name that Raph is merely an abbreviation for. :)
Strategy sounds too broad. I tend to look at them as types of math problems. - odds calculation - trajectory assessment - packing problems - scheduling problems - graph theory problems and then many types of games combine more than one, of course.
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2011 on How Many Root Gameplays Are There? at What Games Are
Raphkoster is now following The Typepad Team
Aug 22, 2011