Monday, March 20, 2006

Weekly Review Mar. 12th to Mar. 18th

This week has been sparse for theory, but productive. As the week of Iron Game Chef, it seems that many theorists have been focused more on design than theory development. And this focus has already provided one insight.

Design Toward or Design Away

Joshua BishopRoby offers a classification of RPGs, based on whether they are designed to push players towards something particular, what he calls design What Matters, or those which manage things which get in the way, but let the players choose the focus, what he calls Design What Doesn't Matter. He offers some classifications, as well as pointing out how the focusing games are able to take players somewhere they would not normally have gone. On the other hand, the managing games enable players to return to the familiar more easily.

The response to this idea has been varied. One of the early criticisms was that of compelling subgames within a larger managing game. Whether this is focusing or just exuberant management remains somewhat unclear. In any case these ideas are now percolating, as evidenced by Jasper McChesney's extension to his ice cream metaphor.

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