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HorseheadnebuladispLife is but a short journey. We have a few scant decades in which to enjoy the company of our friends and family, the beauty of the world and the bittersweet contradictions of the modern age. Whatever our personal metaphysics, we can be certain that we only get to live in this world once, and that it is what we do in this world that really matters, regardless of what we believe happens after our time is over. When our burdens weigh heavy upon us, the journey can be arduous, so it is vital we enjoy the blessings of life whenever we can.

Celebrate winter however you choose, but whichever festival you favour, celebrate something - whether it is just a few short days free from our labours, or nights of overindulgent eating and drinking, take the time to savour the experience of being you. There is no greater blessing than life itself, as any parent will attest. Accept each day as a gift, find your own path, and travel it in peace.

See you all in January for more genial nonsense!

Bridge vs Poker

Pocketrockets24785 The substitution of Texas hold ‘em for baccarat in the new Bond movie, Casino Royale, was not just a shrewd move by the movie’s producers to update the Bond’s debut novel for a modern audience, it was a symptom of a dramatic change in the Western world’s card game habits.

Card games, which use a universally available deck, are essentially a cultural heritage. Parents teach card games to their children, teenagers learn card games from their peers, and adults learn card games from the odd fanatic (such as myself) keen to spread a variety of games to as many people as possible. At any given time, there will necessarily be one game that is more popular than others.

In the United States in 1940, the most popular card game was contract bridge (hereafter, bridge). It was played by 47% of women, and 30% of men. Poker took second place for men at 22%, and a distant sixth for women at 5%. The survey in question, conducted by the Association of American Card Manufacturers, does not specify which forms of poker were being played, but I suspect that some form or draw or stud poker dominated at this time.

Bridge has its origins in trick taking games (such as whist) which date back to the early 16th century, although the earliest rulebook for something resembling modern bridge is dated 1886, and calls it ‘biritch or Russian whist’. It’s popularity grew in the US and the UK in the 1890s, and in 1925 a variant of the basic game developed by railroad tycoon Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (and others) called contract bridge was introduced. This form so completely replaced other forms of the game that the name bridge is now synonymous with contract bridge.

The domination of bridge in the mid-twentieth century had a measurable consequence: decks of cards had an extra card added which detailed the scoring for bridge. Almost all decks of cards sold in the UK and in Europe have a bridge scoring card included in them (I am not certain if the same is true in the US).

Texas hold ‘em (hereafter, hold ‘em) is a younger game. It is believed to date back to the 1900s, and according to legend was first played in Robstown, Texas, before coming to Dallas around 1925. It was first played in a casino in 1967 at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. Ever since then, its popularity has been on the rise.

In the first decade of the 21st century, hold ‘em’s popularity has exploded – in part due to increasing coverage on TV, and in part due to its popularity as an online gambling game. However, this growing interest in hold ‘em has been possible thanks to key aspects of the game. Firstly, many people already understand ‘the poker ladder’ (the sequence of winning hands: highest card, pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush). Secondly, with or without this prior knowledge, people can learn to play hold ‘em in just a few minutes. Thirdly, each hand plays quickly and simply. Furthermore, you can play hold ‘em with any number of players (although it can be more rewarding with greater than four players). Even when not played for money (using chips solely for keeping score) the game is exciting, fun, social and extremely compelling. 

By comparison, bridge has been in serious decline. Although there are still 200 million bridge players worldwide, the average age of bridge club members in the UK is now 55, and in the US it is 60 – and aging with each passing year. There are a number of reasons for the game’s decreasing popularity. Firstly, it requires exactly four players – a serious limitation for any game. Secondly, it is complicated: the bidding system can take weeks to learn, and years to master. Thirdly, its deterministic mechanics often act as a cause of passive-aggressive rudeness, as partners bitch at each other: “why didn’t you lead with the king?”

Peter Stocken, chairman of the English Bridge Union observes: “One of the blights of bridge in the past… has been the bad behaviour of some. God knows, I was guilty of it in my youth. It's normally partners getting at each other, and it's incredibly off-putting.” 

(This sniping between partners is almost universal in amateur bridge, and the reason that I now refuse to play the game).

Bridge is dead, long live hold ‘em. Or at least, so it seems. There is one final battlefield where bridge might make its final stand – the ubiquitous scoring card included in almost every deck of cards. As long as this card displays scoring details for bridge, the venerable game will hang in just a little longer. But if the manufacturers of decks of cards begin to take out the bridge score card and replace it with a reference card denoting the poker ladder (as already happens in decks that are packaged with boxes of poker chips), then the battle will be over, and hold ‘em will have achieved an absolute victory over its rival. 

Next time you buy a deck of cards, see which scoring cards are packaged with it. Let me know what you find! And don’t forget to mention where you are in the world.


  • The Fireside Book of Cards, Jacoby, Oswald and Albert Morehead (Simon and Schuster, New York), 1957.

  • How Bridge Became Cool, Ed Caesar, The Independent, 28 November 2006. 

Play with Fire Goes Master

Bbq_sequence Play with Fire, the abstract platform-puzzle game that’s been developed as an indie project for release on Manifesto went Master this Wednesday. It should be on sale in early January.

It’s been 17 months since the original concept design, and 14 months since we broke ground on the code. That’s a lot longer than the 6 months originally planned for the project, but then we’ve suffered numerous delays during this time on account of setting up the developer, Fantasy Labs – including changing the programmer (which is always excessively costly in time), and cross-talk with other projects that had to be undertaken to provide bridge funding.

But still, the basic principle has held: we’ve developed on a very low budget. Now all that remains is to see if there is a niche market out there looking for something a little bit different, something that could never be a mass market success, something which endeavours to be original. My biggest concern is our rather high minimum spec. We may be at the mercy of players more interested in the latest glossy FPS than an oddball game like this one. 

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported the project, especially the volunteers from the external pool who contributed more than half of the game’s fields, and in particular Maurizio Pozzobon, Patrick Dugan and Ian Tyrell, whose contributions to the game have been immense, and who will all be receiving a share of the revenue in return. It’s not too late to help the project – please lend a hand building awareness for the game by mentioning it on your blog when the link on the Manifesto site goes live. (Images should be available on the Manifesto page).

This is a game about burning stuff to the ground. It has a path for people looking for challenge and fiero, a path for people looking for mind-melting puzzles, and a path for people who just want to have a bit of fun and watch things blaze and collapse. All it needs now is players.

Considering Politics

Beshty_polabstract1 Do we understand the politics of representational democracy? Many routinely decry our current political systems as fatally flawed, or our politicians as irredeemably corrupt, or the voting public as hopelessly naïve – but representational democracy places at the very least the potential of power and influence into the hands of the collective. Surely there is a way to play this game and win? 

This is a thought experiment using Temperament Theory. It is not science, nor strictly philosophy, but rather something of a cartoon of modern politics.

Firstly, let us not consider democratic politics in terms of people, but in terms of the countries as a whole. Rather than individual voters, the country expresses different proportions of support for different political factions – in effect, each political party is a particular signal competing with other signals for relevance.

Furthermore, the signals in each case are quite variable – if you examine the signal from a certain political party, it does not remain constant over decades, but rather changes gradually. There may be certain themes that remain present over the short term, but over the long term the signal for each party is highly variable. (Consider, for instance, the reformation of the Labour party in the 1990s in the United Kingdom, which transformed from being a form of soft communism to a form of soft capitalism during the process of ascending to political dominance).

In some countries (such as the US) there are only two significant signals, with some noise contributed by minor political factions. In others (such as the UK) there are three key signals – two major and one minor, with again some noise contributed by minor political factions. Still others (such as Italy) have many competing signals such that there is no pattern of overall signal and, indeed, the political system is effectively tied into a constant deadlock, with very little progress possible. (It is a matter of taste whether this political incapacitation is a benefit or a disadvantage for a country). 

When we look at the political factions in this way, we can ignore to a certain extent the alleged corruption of politicians. Yes, those in power will always wield their influence in part for their own benefit – but it is in their best interests to do whatever the dominant signal demands, as this is how power is maintained. Besides, in our cartoon we are ignoring the individuals – political corruption thus becomes something like the edge that a casino maintains over its gamblers; a side cost of operating under these political rules. It is not, and could not be, the dominant force without resorting to ballot stuffing or similar extreme measures.

Now let us add to this grossly simplified picture of the political system, some equally simplistic sketches of Temperament Theory. From this perspective, there are four signals of significantly different strengths: 

  • Guardian makes up 50% of the signal (that is, is dominant in approximately 50% of the population), and in political terms is principally concerned with maintaining traditional ways of life.
  • Artisan makes up 25% of the signal, and in political terms is principally concerned with its own self interest.
  • Idealist makes up 10-15% of the signal, and in political terms is concerned with utopian goals, and whatever is deemed to be in the best interests of everyone.
  • Rational makes up 10-15% of the signal, and in political terms is concerned with logical action, and also with securing maximum autonom for individuals.

Remember, this is by nature a cartoon, and not a scientific model, but in our thought experiment we have four signals which exist in the ratio 1:1:2:4. Remember also that we are ignoring people as individuals – any given individual may express any of these four signals in voting, but we are only concerned with the overall signal this generates, not the actions of individuals. 

Notice immediately that the Guardian signal, which seeks to maintain the traditional forms, is 50% of the signal and therefore typically dominates. In order for the Guardian signal to be overruled, it is necessary for the Artisan, Idealist and Rational signals to be in perfect agreement, or for there to be some drift in the unity of the Guardian signal.

In practical terms, the Guardian signal does not support a single political faction, but rather tends to be split between the traditional factions. Thus, in a two party system we can imagine 25% support for one faction and 25% for the rival faction. Each faction therefore seeks an additional 25% of the signal share (the vote, in a representative democracy) in order to gain control. 

The easiest way to gain this 25% is to court the support of the Artisan signal – which (in our cartoon) is only concerned with its own self-interest. Thus, at any time that there is a political issue which requires sacrifice to be made (such as environmental restrictions on fuel consumption et al) it is political suicide for a faction to push forward this issue without unilateral support from the other factions, as any faction opposing such an issue can gain the upper hand.

If the Artisan signal becomes split evenly – which we may expect if opposing factions each have different issues that represent self interest (a practical inevitability) – then the outcome of the political battle comes down to the Rational signal versus the Idealist signal. But the concerns of these signals do not overlap – the Rational signal’s desire for autonomy will tend to be orthogonal to the Idealist signal’s desire for mutual co-operation. Thus the political system reaches its position of being delicately balanced, such that the slightest difference in the relative signal strengths can be decisive. 

One of the consequences of this situation is that minority political factions whose issues appeal solely to the minority Temperament signals have essentially no possibility of gaining power. So, for instance, the Libertarian party in the US, which is principally concerned with personal autonomy, attracts solely the Rational signal. It does not attract the whole of this signal, because the logical course of action is not necessarily to support a minority party, and therefore the net effect of the Libertarian party is to weaken the Rational signal’s influence in the political organism.

Similarly, the Green party in most countries appeals primarily to the Idealist signal, and again, does not acquire the whole of this signal, and certainly has no hope of gaining power unless it somehow manages to become traditional, and thus acquires the support of the Guardian signal. These revolutionary shifts in factional support can happen – but they require extreme circumstances to wrest support from the old factions. 

And yet, it is not the case that the Green party has had no effect on the political organism. By championing an issue that previously did not exist, the Green party allowed environmental issues to be added to the political agenda. In the European elections of the late 1980s, the Green party was able to secure a surprisingly large share of the vote (in part because voters simply didn’t care who represented them in the European Parliament, and therefore felt a certain freedom to support minority causes). At that point, environmental issues – which had previously been ignored – shot to the forefront of the political agenda, and no political faction could afford to be silent on this issue.

In this regard, the Green party had served a vital purpose. It is uncertain whether or not its continuing existence provides additional benefit, or simply removes a portion of the Idealist signal (at least in our cartoon model) from circulation.

Thus, minority political factions can have significant effects in the political organism, by bringing new issues into play, or by representing local signal rather than national or international signal. For instance, various UK nationalist parties – such as Plaid Cymru (the Welsh national party) or the Ulster Unionists – manage to get a good share of local signal (local vote) and thus manage to get a few representatives into parliament. This is because a faction representing a regional view can take a significant share of the regional Guardian signal by representing a traditional, local perspective. Such factions cannot usually gain power – but a few seats can make a difference when the major factions find themselves equally matched, as they hold the ‘casting vote’. Thus they can get the least controversial of their issues pushed through the political system under the right circumstances.

I am doubtful that the Libertarian party in the US has the capacity to push forward an issue into wider view (as with the Green party) and it certainly has no hope of gaining local support (since it tends to have no local issues) – but political organisms can be full of surprises. It is certainly possible that circumstances might arise that would lend this faction relevance, as happened with the Green party in Europe briefly. One cannot help but wonder if the goals of the Libertarian party would not be more effectively rendered in a political pressure group than in a political party. (Is there a confluence of viewpoint with the ACLU, for instance? I am uncertain.)

The ultimate lesson of this cartoon is simple: in order to wield political influence, it is necessary to form alliances. From the perspective of Temperament Theory (or at least our cartoon of it), the minority signals – Rational and Idealist – must find common ground with each other, or else with the Artisan signal, in order to push against the Guardian signal, which maintains the ‘old ways’ in some form or another. Alternatively, the minority signals can ally with the Guardian signal and attempt to influence the expression of traditional signals (such as religion and nationalism), which they may do in everyday life, through open and friendly discussion, without resorting to the political mechanisms. 

There is limited value to the Rational signal squandering its strengths by, for instance, focussing on how to completely remake the political systems in place. With the Rational temperament’s focus on systems, it is easy for it to be caught up with fanciful ideas to change the way the political machine functions – and some of these ideas may even be useful – but they can never be put into play without support from the other signals, so the case for their implementation must have undeniable wide appeal. Solutions focussed solely on the autonomy of the individual will always be a minority concern.

Similarly, there is limited value in the Idealist signal squandering its strengths by, for instance, focussing on overly utopian goals that cannot be achieved without massive self-sacrifice by all – the Artisan signal will always resist this, and its greater signal strength will always tend to overpower the Idealist signal’s lofty purposes. 

If the minority signals wish to fulfil their potential, they must seek to form alliances by finding common ground with other signals, or they must work to influence the traditional signals towards new approaches that offer evident mutual benefits. The political game of representative democracy is not a hopeless cause – perhaps it is just that we have yet to work out how to play it successfully.

The opening image is Political Abstract #1 by Walead Beshty, which I found here. As ever, no copyright infringement is intended, and I will take the image down if asked.

Severe Delays Expected

The laptop has suffered an accident and is out of commission, with the net result that blogging will be severely disrupted and possibly even non-existent for the immediate future.

I'll just leave you with the news that we're waiting for Master Candidate 3 for Play with Fire, which is probably our last chance to have the game finished this year all things considered - fingers crossed that this is the one.

Happy Winter Festival of your choice everyone!

PwF: Power to Game Art!

Digital Artist Management has a short piece on Play with Fire; here's a quote:

“The idea was to cut the cost of development any way we could and then target a niche audience that we knew we could please. The basic way we cut development costs was through the game design. For example, Play With Fire was designed with only three verbs: move and jump, which are trivial to implement, and burn, which admittedly was a little trickier. The game world would be built entirely of cubes, because they'd be easy to render and easy to build with, so that the only tricky technical issues were in the implementation of the burning mechanics.

Many thanks to Dan Boutros for making it happen!

While I'm Away...

In just a few hours, I have to catch a plane - I'm off to Slovakia this week to meet with 3D People and thrash out some details on Reluctant Hero. I've decided not to take the laptop, so no blogging this week.

While I'm away, though...

  • Danc of Lost Garden has put up a great article on the competitive advantages of the iterative design of playground worlds, which you can read here.  I'm honoured to be listed as a reference for this - it makes me feel less isolated in my ramblings to know that they might feed into another bloggers mind and contribute in some small way to something like this.
  • I'm really enjoying reading people's comments on the Wii control mechanism and market prospects. There's musings at Tea Leaves, and more detailed analysis at Man Byte's Blog (here and here), while King Lud IC is considering the value of the Wii as an indie platform, and also how the Wii's agility might give it an edge.
  • And on the subject of Reluctant Hero, I could use some comment from any readers about the narrative side of things, discussed in excessive detail here. I am specifically interested in the question of how many players would be open to the game having no character-to-character conversations, but only narrator dialogue. That is, instead of:

       "Do you know where I can find the chalice?"

    the narrator would say:

       "She asked him where the chalice could be found".

    In the former case, recorded voice dialogue isn't an option, whereas with a narrator we could potentially record the whole thing - maybe using Tom Baker again, although I'd like to consider a female narrator too. Please share your thoughts!

And that's all I have time for today, alas. Until next week!

Strategic Play

88studyjpgw300h400 Strategic play relates to mastering complex game systems and problem solving, with a drive towards perfectionism. It is arguably the oldest play style in videogames, and its commercial importance peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. Now in decline, there nonetheless exist great numbers of hobbyist players whose play needs are best met by the Strategic play style.

Conversion from Other Models

Strategic play is presumed to correlate with Rational in Temperament Theory, which corresponds with NT (Intuitive and Thinking preferences) in Myers-Briggs typology. Additionally, the Type 2 Manager in DGD1 correlates strongly with Strategic play. Note, however, that the fiero theme of the Type 1 Conqueror is often present in Strategic play. 

Note that the concerns expressed in respect of Temperament Theory in the statistical disclaimer apply to this related model.


Different play styles are associated with different talents, which are expressed in those players who favour this approach to play. 

Complex systems are the focus of most, but not all, Strategic play – with examples including the majority of simulation and turn-based strategy games, as well as many cRPG games. Players who favour this play style show greater than usual tolerance for complexity, and indeed will generally persevere with games while they feel that they do not yet understand, provided they believe their tenacity will eventually be rewarded. This allows them to tolerate far longer learning curves than players favouring other play styles – but note that every player can be frustrated by any game for a variety of reasons, and the Strategic play style only gives players the capacity to learn how to use complex game systems, it does not guarantee that they will persist with any given game.

Coupled with this tolerance of complexity comes an ability to perceive ways to optimise the complex systems in question. This gift for optimisation is expressed as a tendency to evaluate every situation in order to determine how to get the maximum benefit for minimum cost. So pronounced is this tendency to min-max game situations that it is even mentioned in Keirsey’s description of the Rational temperament, even though play is not a focus of his work. There is a relationship between complexity and min-maxing, since in simple systems there is limited scope for this kind of optimisation. The love of turn-based strategy games associated with Strategic play is partly related to the capacity for these games to afford multiple optimal routes, and thus to allow for both min-maxing and choice. 

A third talent associated with the Strategic play style is problem solving, and the related ability to think ahead. In many respects, this is simply an extension of tolerance for complexity, since every problem represents a situation of incomplete information (which represents a more convoluted arrangement than the equivalent situation where the solution is known, but must be implemented by skill). Given the relationship between science and the Rational temperament, the gift for problem solving associated with Strategic play is unsurprising, and the games that leverage this talent are often solved by what might be considered a scientific approach – hypothesising possible solutions, exploring the outcome of those solutions, and using this data to produce new hypotheses until a solution has been found. All classic adventure games – text adventures, point and clicks and modern descendents based on this form - find their most loyal fans among people whose play needs lean towards the Strategic.

The driving force behind Strategic play is the Rational temperament’s desire for knowledge and mastery, and as a result Strategic play can seem more focussed on perfectionism than ‘fun’ – although it must be understood that by making perfection the goal, the player expressing this play style achieves fiero and personal satisfaction by achieving mastery. The greater trials they endure en route to this goal, the more it enhances the ultimate reward in fiero. 

When this theme is expressed purely in Strategic terms, the focus of the perfectionism will tend to be a desire for complete game knowledge. An examination of the FAQs available online for complex games, for example the Pokémon games (Game Freak/Creatures Inc, 1996 onwards), shows the output of this drive for complete understanding. When this theme is tempered by Logistical skills, the focus will tend more towards complete acquisition – a drive to collect everything that can be found in the game space. Finally, when this theme is tempered by Tactical skills, the focus will tend more towards mastery of skills; the ability to finesse a situation, and not just to ‘win’.

Keirsey does not often mention play in his Temperament description, so it is noteworthy that he includes the following comment in respect of Strategic skills:

[People who are strong in Strategic skills] play not so much to have fun but to exercise their ingenuity in acquiring game skills. Fun for [them] means figuring out how to get better at some skill, nor merely exercising the skills they already have, and so for [such people] the field of play is invariably a laboratory for increasing their proficiency… When [they] play sports, or even cards and board games, there must be continuous improvement, with no backsliding.

When playing with other people, those preferring the Strategic play style often seem to be highly competitive (which is mentioned in passing in Berens account of the Rational temperament). But for those players expressing this style who are introverted by nature, this competitiveness is the product of their personal drive towards a high degree of proficiency. The other players are simply part of the complex system they are trying to master. Such players often prefer to play alone.


Players favouring specific play styles are also prone to different frustrations. Different elements of play cause varying degrees of friction for players, according to their preferred way to play.

The principle source of friction associated with Strategic play is limitation, specifically limitation of choice, and the consequent disempowerment this can lead to. The Rational temperament which drives this style of play is associated with a need for autonomy, and players who prefer the Strategic play style have a strong need to feel completely in control of their play – to have the freedom to make choices about how that play will proceed. When insufficient choices are provided, this creates a state of powerless limitation. 

For example, a typical first person shooter game consists primarily of a linear sequence of fights. This structure is generally sufficient for players expressing other play needs, but for Strategic play it is unacceptably limited. The player faces no meaningful (Strategic) choices in this situation, and as such this limitation becomes a source of frustration if the game does not engage the player by other means.

Deus Ex (Ion Storm, 2000) is a good example of a game that sets out to minimise this source of friction for players favouring Strategic play, by adding choice at every level of the design. The player is afforded virtually unlimited choices for proceeding through the game space. But in the process of providing these choices, the game develops such a degree of complexity that only players favouring Strategic play can manage to enjoy it. This is the likely reason for the eventual commercial failure of this franchise, since Strategic players have become a minority among videogame players. 

(This problem with limitation should not be confused with the Tactical play style’s issue with constraint – constraint in intended to refer to immediate barriers to action or movement, while limitation is intended to reflect a lack of meaningful options for affecting the game situation. A player favouring Strategic play may tolerate being temporarily constrained provided they have a sufficient choice of actions with which to figure out a way to remove the constraint, while a player favouring Tactical play will generally be frustrated by the constraint itself.).

A Brief History of Strategic Play 

Because the Rational temperament is associated with programmers and game designers, early videogames were extremely influenced by Strategic play. Early mainframe games in the 1970s , such as Star Trek (Mike Mayfield, 1971), Adventure/Colossal Cave (Will Crowther, 1975) and Dungeon (Don Daglow, 1975) and its spiritual descendent Rogue (Toy, Wichman and Arnold, 1980). Many early games were influenced by the tabletop wargames (and role-playing games) of the 1970s, which were also great examples of Strategic play – providing complex play resulting from many different rules and options.

In the 1980s, new computers allowed Strategic play to flourish further. Elite (Braben and Bell,1984) appealed to a number of different play styles, but the apparent lack of limitations (go anywhere, do anything) had especial Strategic appeal. But the real focus of Strategic play in videogames from the 1980s were adventure games, typified by Zork (Infocom, circa 1980) and its many sequels, and at the latter end of the decade, graphical adventures such as The Pawn (Magnetic Scrolls, 1986) and Guild of Thieves (Magnetic Scrolls, 1987). These games seemed to provide few limitations, since the player could enter any command in plain text, although of course in practice this was a somewhat illusory state of affairs. Near the end of the decade, simulations drawing from Strategic play, such as SimCity (Maxis, 1989) started to emerge. 

In the 1990s, turn-based strategy games raised Strategic play to a new level with games such as Civilization (Microprose, 1991), Master of Orion (Simtex, 1993) and the X-COM series (Mythos Games et al, 1994 onwards). Additionally, strategic role-playing games such as the Heroes of Might and Magic series (New World Computing et al, 1990 onwards), and point and click adventures such as The Secret of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1990) made this decade the golden age of Strategic play for many people preferring this play style.

Sadly for players preferring Strategic play, the arrival of the PlayStation in the mid-90s marked a change in the focus of the videogame market. Until this point, players favouring Strategic play were (arguably) in the majority, and the bulk of the games being made appealed to these players in some way. But a new era was arriving in which effortless 3D graphics opened the door to a wider market. The Strategic player was about to go from being the key audience for videogames, to being a strong but diminished niche market. 

This change was to mark the end of the commercial importance of adventure games, and a gradual narrowing of the importance of turn-based strategy games which today support very few viable franchises, and maximum audiences of no more than 2 million units (while other types of games were able to pull in maximum audiences of 8 million units during this time). Today, Strategic play in isolation is a commercial backwater, although many successful games support Strategic play along with other play styles.


Strategic play was the force behind adventure games, strategy games and simulations, as well as an influencing factor in the development of computer RPGs. Once the most important play style in the videogames industry, it has since been eclipsed by the more popular Tactical and Logistical play styles, and now represents something of a niche market.

With talents for dealing with complexity and problem solving, and an especial weakness for min-maxing, the Strategic player is something of an expert in figuring out games, avoids play that in their eyes is limited, and, armed with their strong drive for perfectionism, they generally master the games they adopt as their own. In many ways, they are the very model of the gamer hobbyist. 

The opening image is Creation is Evolution by Tom McNease, which I found here. As ever, no copyright infringement is intended, and I will take the image down if asked.