My So Called Games


Back from India, and now trying to get a grip of my situation. I'm busy - or at least, I think I'm busy. It may be that once I get down to it the situation is not as intense as it currently feels. I'm short-staffed right now which isn't helping.

With no big trips planned now until GDC, I should be able to get back to producing more substantive blog articles. I might have a go at completing my Caillois sequence - certainly I will be doing the piece on Mimicry sometime in the next fortnight as this is long overdue.

First things first, I must write about the kabaddi game I attended in Hyderabad.

Can I just check to see if there's anything that people are waiting for? (Apart from the design process and rules for Black Sun, which will come in their own time). Is it worth me writing more on using game design grammar as a tool, or did the previous piece cover this? (ZenBen suggested the abbreviation CatGoD - Categorial Grammar of Design, which suggests I could nickname this system 'Bast' if I was thus inclined...)

Oh, and on the subject of audience models, I need to write a piece on Interaction Styles, Temperament Theory's younger sister. I'll add that to the nebula.

And lastly, my relentlessly experimental tech dude and I fixed the chipped PS2 yesterday, so I have a week to enjoy playing Katamari Damacy before We Love Katamari finally launches in Europe! Happy day!


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Glad you liked the acronym suggestion!
When I read the blog on game design grammar, the thought struck me that for a discipline with such vigour, there is little enough rigour to the definition attempts within game studies.
A game design grammar might be one way to go, but it suggests an even more structured approach, which would be to use a calculus. My initial thought would be the lambda calculus. A language of functions would fit the mechanistic nature of (computer) game play, in my humble opinion.
That said, I must now admit comparative ignorance of the subject, since my experience comprises a (low) number of months of PhD study into automated player modelling for computer games. In that time, I've uncovered a host of gameplay descriptor models of varying levels of detail, but no comprehensive frameworks. There are objectively definable elements common to all gameplay, and so should there not be a formal language to describe them?
Or maybe that's like putting a T-Rex in an F-16 (TM Calvin&Hobbes)?

Your C&H reference is appreciated. :) There's a lot of interest in formal representation systems for gameplay - Danc did an interesting piece on a musical style representation over at Lost Garden recently.

Personally, I feel that notation systems are only especially useful for direct transcription. When we read music, we play it note for note. I do not think there is enormous value for gameplay transcription - except perhaps in play trials, for recording player experiences by observation - because gameplay cannot be directly transcribed. There is no transcription method for book or film experiences either! :)

I see the grammer I defined (which is related to lambda calculus) as a tool for driving the thought process behind design. It's a decompositional tool, not a transcription mechanism, at least in my view. Although one could argue it has transcriptional elements, I suppose.

The root problem is that there aren't any objectively definable elements to play because play is experienced by individuals and every individual is radically different.

But that doesn't mean people shouldn't have a go all the same! :)

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