Friday, September 01, 2006

Lesson: Resource

Resources are a common element of mechanics, in particular they are icons which can be exchanged or manipulated during play. As icons, resources often have multiple layers of significance. For example, an experience point may be used in several different ways (such as permanent or temporary improvement of a character), and gained in many ways (from goals achieved by a character to player popularity). The processes of gaining and using this resource, is represented by the experience point linking these processes in the exchange.

One way of looking at how mechanics interact with the more general system and resolution occurring in play is to trace these resource links. The gaining and spending of experience provides a structure to the dynamics of play, a structure that is easily seen and easy for players to respond and adapt to. The hazard of this perspective is that not everything that is exchanged or manipulated is iconic.

Often at the same time as resources are exchanged, social elements change without clear outward signs. Emotional responses, respect, interest, and attention are all subtly moving during play. These form the dynamics of play along side and interacting with the mechanical resources of play.

To what extent can mechanics delve into the social realm? To what extent can resources be used outside of system (i.e. not determining the fictional content)? How well can we map out the social dynamics? And how much do the overt dynamics of resources mirror the subtler dynamics of human interaction?

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