Reading Notes 2

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

Constitutive Rules – In the game “Dots and Boxes”, where players alternate connecting dots in a grid to create squares to win, the Constitutive Rules are that there are only so many squares that can be made in a game, depending on the size of the grid. For example, in a 3 by 3 grid (9 dots), 12 total lines can be placed. 12 total lines can create 4 squares, meaning 4 points can be earned at this grid size. 3 lines must be placed in order for any point to be made in any grid size. In a 3×3 grid, players can place up to 6 lines (half of the total lines), before points are made, after 6, the players have no choice but to start earning points. In a 3×3 grid, a player can win with a maximum of 3 points, because alternating turns guarantees the losing player at least one square. It is impossible for a player to win by occupying all of the squares in a grid.

Operational Rules – Play takes place on a grid of dots (ie. 3×3, 4×4, and so on). Players alternate drawing a single or horizontal vertical line between two adjacent dots. A player that completes the 4th side of a box earns 1 point and can take an extra turn. When there are no more spaces to place lines, the player with the most points wins.

Implicit Rules – The implicit rules are that players don’t take too long to draw lines. Players can’t draw additional dots outside of the grid once the game has already started. A player cannot interrupt another player that is filling a chain of squares due to the rule that says he can take an extra turn after filling a square. It is implied that players can’t erase lines drawn or take back a turn if they make a bad choice. Lines have to be drawn between two dots nearest to each other, lines cant go through other dots or be drawn outside of the grid to connect to another dot. Players can’t draw additional lines unless they have scored a point in their last turn.
2. In your opinion what does the element of randomness contribute to making a game more compelling?

Randomness provides an aspect of unpredictability to a game. It becomes more challenging because random changes in the game will require a some sort of change in the player’s choices throughout the rest of the game. Players need to be quick thinkers, and quick thinking requires a lot of attention and focus – ultimately making the game more compelling. Randomness can force players to change their strategies while playing. It can completely turn the tables of a game and make a player that’s behind in the game suddenly close to reaching the goal. It can set back players that were ahead. It creates unexpected obstacles in the way of achieving a goal. These challenges make winning the game more exciting.

3. 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?  (Backgammon, Citadels, Catan, or other)  (Please incorporate concepts from the reading in your answer)

Backgammon involves randomness because you are rolling dice in order to determine how far to move your game pieces. The only choices the players make are which pieces to move, however, under certain circumstances (ie. Where a pieces are blocked) a player may have no choice but to move a specific piece. Players need to make meaningful choices when moving their pieces. Some pieces are higher risk than others and may increase your chances of losing the game. Rolling doubles is a random event that can change the outcome of the game. The combined outcome of rolling doubles is about 1/6, meaning it will happen quite frequently in the game. Rolling high doubles of 4-4,5-5,6-6, are about a 1/12 chance. The doubles were the aspect of the game that really made it interesting for me personally. When I played Backgammon in class, I was ahead, however, when my opponent rolled a 6-6 the tides had changed and the game became more suspenseful. When she had started to get ahead of me, I started to think that I had played the game too safe and not taken enough risks in my choices. Even when we were at a point where both of our pieces had passed each other and had no chance of sending one of our opponent’s pieces back, randomness of the die rolls could still change the outcome of the game even if it seemed like one person was ahead of the other.

4. 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. ( This question is not so easy)

The card game Citadels that we played in class has a positive and negative feedback loop system. Several characters in the game, such as the bishop, merchant, king, and warlord, will receive 1 gold piece for every district built that matches their color. When a character has more gold, they can achieve the goal of building 8 districts faster. The negative feedback occurs when characters such as the thief, warlord, or assassin sabotage other players and make it more difficult for advanced player to build 8 districts. The thief steals money, the warlord destroys a district, and the assassin takes away a whole turn. These negative feedback loops stabilize the game to prevent certain players from getting too far ahead too soon.

5. In your own words explain these concepts from the field of Game Theory :
1. Saddle Point
Saddle Point is a sort of equilibrium in a game, where the choices the player makes lead to the same result as a choice with more extreme risks or benefits. It is a point of maximum gains and minimum gains at the same time.
2. Prisoners Dilemma
The prisoners dilemma is a concept that describes a situation in which two players have to decide whether to cooperate for small gains, or go against the other player for large gains at the expense of the other player’s loss. Players do not know what the other will choose.
3. Zero Sum Game
A zero sum game is a game in which one player’s gains is equal to another player’s losses. If one player has a positive outcome, the other will have negative. The sum of the gains and losses of both players will equal zero. It is impossible for both to win or both to lose.