Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lesson: Powergaming

The Forge's glossary defines powergaming as "A potentially dysfunctional technique of Hard Core Gamist play, characterized by maximizing character impact on the game-world or player impact on the dialogue of play by whatever means available", but this definition is far more specific and limited than that used by many gamers.

In the broadest sense, powergaming is approaching a system of roleplaying mechanics not as an attempt to provide structure storytelling or social interaction, but as an end in itself, and acting to maximize one's influence over the outcome of mechanical conflicts. There are many games in which certain choices and strategies are more mechanically effective, but only when players disregard other considerations in order to increase their mechanical effectiveness do we say they powergame. Merely seeking and exercising mechanical power isn't enough - the pursuit of power has to be made at the expense of story, characterization, drama, versimilitude, or similar factor.

Interestingly, players will sometimes deliberately limit the effectiveness of their mechanical design or strategy in order to create a more "interesting" character.

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