Sunday, September 15, 2019

Nine Assumptions in Game Design

There are a lot of unspoken and unconsidered assumptions that influence the design of role-playing games. These are the major ones I want to think about, so I'm posting this here for when I want to return to the topic:

  • Assumption #1: The people playing this game will be constituted by the same group at your table week after week as the game progresses. 

  • Assumption #2a: The game is meant to be a pleasant object to read cover-to-cover.
  • Assumption #2b: The game is a resource designed to be referenced in play. 

  • Assumption #3: There is a correct balance between the "work" of gaming and the "fun" of gaming. 

  • Assumption #4a: Everyone at the table is looking for the same kind of fun out of the game. 
  • Assumption #4b: People at the table are looking for different kinds of fun but the game itself navigates that divide.

  • Assumption #5a: Advancement systems for characters should encourage a certain kind of play.
  • Assumption #5b: Advancement systems for characters should reward simply playing the game.

  • Assumption #6a: Roleplaying is part of the game and should be included mechanically in the game's rules.
  • Assumption #6b: Roleplaying is separate from the rules of the game, whether incidental or just not in need of a connection to the game's rules.

  • Assumption #7: Any time the word "story" is used, whether for or against in gaming, there is likely an assumption about the nature of rpgs in play.

  • Assumption #8: A game's rules should be tied to setting and/or genre.

  • Assumption #9a: Ideally, a game's rules should "get out of the way" and fade into the background until needed. 
  • Assumption #9b: A game is about its rules; engagement with the rules should be a fundamental part of play.