Reading Notes #2

Choose a simple game (not found in the reading) and describe its Constitutive Rules, Operational Rules, and (at least 3…) Implicit Rules.



1. Player 1 thinks of a word or short phrase and indicates each letter with a blank space (a short line) on piece of paper.
2. Player 2 guesses a letter.

  • If the letter appears in the word(s), Player 1 writes the letter in the appropriate space(s).
  • If the letter does not appear in the word, Player one, adds a body part to a stick figure on the “gallows.”

3. Player 2 continues to guess letters until either they have guessed all of the letters in the word(s), or until the stick figure has all of its body parts on the gallows (head, body, left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg).

1. The games begins with each letter represented by a blank space and the potential of any of the 26 letters to fill those spaces.
2. Player 2 guesses one letter at a time until each space is filled
3. Six wrong guesses results in a full stick figure on the gallows and a win for Player 1.

1. Player 2 can only guess one letter at a time.
2. Player 1 must always honestly and accurately fill in the each blank space indicating the letter that Player 2 guesses.


In your opinion what does the element of randomness contribute to making a game more compelling?

In my opinion, the element of randomness makes a game more compelling because it is adds suspense, and gives a beginner level player a chance to beat an advanced player. In a game like chess, there is no dice roll or wild card. The game is purely isolated choices made by each player. While chess is a wonderful game, you would not expect a beginning player to beat a chess master by luck. Hence, it has an extremely competitive, measured, and intellectual reputation. On the extreme opposite side of the spectrum, the game Candyland is totally comprised of randomized cards that dictate how many spaces a player will move forward. The result is a game that requires no active choice, hence no competition. When used correctly and in a balanced way, randomness allows for plot twists and drama, while still maintaining the competition of a game like Chess.


Pick one of the games we played in class that involves randomness and describe how you feel personally about the role randomness plays in the game experience?

In the game Backgammon, players roll two 6-side dice for each turn. The role of dice is a great balance of randomness and intentionality because, though the numbers on each dice appear randomly, the player must choose how to play the two numbers. The numbers can be used as two individual rolls, or can be added together to move one piece. For a beginning player, the randomness of the dice is more apparent. The game can swing back and forth depending on the numbers that are rolled. However, for an experienced player, the logic behind the game is clearer and the dice rolls can be used in a more intentional way. For this reason, the dice rolling in Backgammon works very well. The game is fun and engaging for beginners, but offers much room for improvement and understanding for the developed player. The randomness allows for meaningful play because it adds uncertainty.


Describe examples (from any of the games we have played in class or another game you have played) of these key cybernetics concepts: a positive feedback loop and a negative feedback loop.

An example of a positive feedback loop occurs in the game Monopoly. As a player invests in property, she earns money from rent from other players. With that rent, she can then buy houses and hotels, which drastically raises the rent that she earns. As she continues to collect more rent, she can build up on each property so that the rent increases yet again. Her wealth increases exponentially until she has won the game. Sometimes this growth does not happen exponentially as in a classic positive feedback loop. However, an exponential trend tends to happen towards the end of a game if one player is dominating certain properties.

An example of a negative feedback loop occurs in the game Citadel. Because all players see each other’s wealth and hand of district cards, a player with more wealth is targeted more often. Players can use their special powers to quickly knock down another players’ advantage so that one person never holds onto wealth for a very long time. I found this to be a very interesting dynamic of the game, because I am accustomed to games like Monopoly which allows saving money and amassing wealth for long term play. By contrast, it appears that no one player remains wealthy for a long period of time in Citadel.


In your own words explain these concepts from the field of Game Theory:

Saddle Point
A Saddle Point is a specific strategy that provides a quick and mindless route to winning. A saddle point occurs when a player discovers a certain move or strategy that will always help more than it will harm. It completely destroys meaningful play because it leaves that player with any reason to deviate from the one move that is sure to lead them to victory.

Prisoners Dilemma
The Prisoners’ Dilemma is an example in game theory where, whatever the other player dows, each is better off confessing rather than staying quiet. However, the outcome when both confess is worse for each, than if they had both decided to remain silent.

Zero Sum Game
A Zero Sum Game is a game when each gain of one player directly correlates with the loss of another player. In other words, there is a finite utility of gain to be had, and a player either wins it or loses it.