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Just to Browse
2013-12-07, 05:50 PM
Splitting this off from the E6 thread because it's interesting enough to warrant its own discussion.

This is a presentation (Don't read it in public) (http://www.theoryoffun.com/theoryoffun.pdf) (It has pictures and very little text. I promise it's a quick read) from a game design conference back in 2003, which I thought was very interesting.

It's about how people are interested in games, because games are puzzles, and that we get bored of games once we've figured out the puzzles, or we get frustrated with games when we can't figure out the puzzles to solve.

It basically goes on to say that in order to prevent players from getting bored, but keep them interested, you need some way of changing the puzzles (like player-generated content) or writing them so there isn't one answer (making it an art form).

Any other thoughts on this topic?

Slipperychicken
2013-12-07, 06:18 PM
It's lucky that I didn't read this in public. I don't need people looking over my shoulder to see the words "blowjob" and "run her over" in big red letters on the screen.

erikun
2013-12-07, 06:37 PM
Well, first, I'm not noticing a very good relevance between the presentation and RPGs. Primarily, it appears to be an analysis of video games, primarily single-player video games. (although it could apply to board games as well) The primary conclusions seem to be "There is no difference between being endlessly entertaining and being art," and "Games will remain simple until player-interaction makes it more complex."

I'm not too sure I agree with any of the conclusions.

For one, we do have games that do allow nearly endless user-created content these days. However, I have yet to hear about Minecraft becoming transformed into some revolutionary, next-generation of video gaming platform because of it. It is considerably huge, yes, but not necessarily moreso than other online multiplayer games available. Second Life is perhaps an even better example, literally allowing players to create anything and sell it in-game, but it has mostly become forgotten at this point in time. The issue is that, while player-generated content can extend the life of the game, this content frequently isn't as great or as interesting as most professionally-generated content. People were not ignoring Skyrim and playing Minecraft (or the old Neverwinter Nights) instead, because as much as they complain about the casualization of the whole AAA gaming industry, they still preferred the lengthy experience of a large world produced in Skyrim over a concept that somebody put together in a few months in their free time.

The second problem is that non-video games can be open to interpretation, and by the assumption of the presentation, become art. (I'd argue that there's a lot in art that isn't merely open to interpretation, but that's another point.) You can have stories that are considered art, you can have sound that is considered art, and you can have images that are considered art. But if a story that you read in a book would be considered open enough for discussion and interpretation that you consider it art, wouldn't that same story in a game be considered art? If so, they we're talking about a video game becoming art independent of the "puzzles" being open to interpretation - kind of a paradox, in that sense.

There's also the issue that we have a bunch of open, sandbox, do-whatever games out there. Many games allow for different win conditions or different paths of victory, but saying that you can win through diplomacy or warfare in the most recent Civilization game hasn't made it any more artistic, even if the better path is open to interpretation.

I'd also note that some of the most successful video games right now, such as League of Legends or still World of Warcraft, are so due to continually provided content - rather against the conclusion of the presentation.

1
So, how does this relate to RPGs?

Well, on several points. One is that the PnP (pen-and-paper) RPG is a form of social interaction, and so does derive part of its enjoyment with getting along with other people. This is a point that the presentation seems to completely ignore, despite it being one of the biggest and (in my view) most relevant qualities. I can have a bad game with a bad system and still enjoy it, thanks to spending time with friends.

The second is that, when I play a PnP RPG, I'm not playing the system. That is, I don't play D&D to win a game of D&D. I play D&D to win a fight against the orcs raiding the village, or whatever the challenge of the day is. One reason I consider RPGs to be infinitely playable is that familiarity with the system only improves the use of the system. I'm not playing to challenge the system; I'm playing to challenge whatever the GM has created. Trying to compare D&D to chess just feels incorrect, because when I play chess, I play it to test my mastery of chess. When I play D&D, I play it to test my character, Mikealah Stoneshield the Dwarven Fighter/Cleric, against the challenges of his world. The D&D system is only there to dictate how Mikealah can do so.

Just to Browse
2013-12-09, 02:26 PM
Put a little disclaimer in the link, my bad.

erikun, I think a lot of popularity from open-world games skyrim came from being able to "generate" content, by making really versatile characters or going on incredibly disparate paths with each playthrough. I think that's also part of the draw of games like Dark Souls, and PnP games like D&D (which are more open-universe, and thus even more timeless).

The presentation really didn't talk enough about person-to-person interactions (like your point #1), which I think are a big reason that games like WoW and LoL are so popular (big group raids and PvP are pretty dominant from my admittedly anecdotal experience).

I think the popularity of PnPs is a strong support for his concept of "games as art", actually. D&D is so open-ended (and some rules are so vague) that there is no real win condition or true puzzle to solve, even for charop.

Airk
2013-12-09, 03:30 PM
Put a little disclaimer in the link, my bad.

erikun, I think a lot of popularity from open-world games skyrim came from being able to "generate" content, by making really versatile characters or going on incredibly disparate paths with each playthrough. I think that's also part of the draw of games like Dark Souls, and PnP games like D&D (which are more open-universe, and thus even more timeless).

I disagree; I don't think this has anything to do with "generating" content, because at the end of the day, nothing is created by the character. Maybe you could argue that a game with more classes/builds has -more- content than a game that doesn't, but in no way is the player 'generating' content by picking a new class. Especially in a game like Skyrim where, at the end of the day, nothing really significant changes based on this.

I don't really think the presentation even really APPLIES to D&D, since it seems to be operating under the assumption of games=puzzles. Which, incidentally, is not a useful definition. Indeed, it's so unuseful as to be nearly demonstrably false.


I think the popularity of PnPs is a strong support for his concept of "games as art", actually. D&D is so open-ended (and some rules are so vague) that there is no real win condition or true puzzle to solve, even for charop.

Oh, so you agree that the presentation basically doesn't even talk about 'unwinnable' games.

Okay, so how does being 'goalless' equate to being 'art'.