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.


Operational rules:

  • players all have a sheet of paper that is a list of 12 categories, all with the same list
  • there are 3 rounds in a standard game
  • each round is timed, with the first round having 2.5 minutes, the second having 2 minutes, and the third have 1.5 minutes
  • on a piece of paper, players must fill in as many of the 12 categories on their list as they can in the allotted time slot
  • each answered category must being with the same letter, which is chosen for all players via letter dice roll
  • one player rolls a letter dice and determines the letter, the timer pressed and players may begin filling in their answers
  • when the timer buzzes, players may finish the word they are writing but then must put their pens down
  • players may not have the same answers as one another
  • players may not use adjectives (i.e. “slimy sausage” would not be suitable for the category “foods”)
  • player with the highest numerical score at the end of the 3 rounds is the winner

Constitutive rules:

  • player receives 1 point for each suitable answer
  • player receives 2 points for a suitable answer that uses an alliteration (i.e.”Marilyn Monroe” for “famous women”)
  • player receives 0 points if they have the same answer as another player

Implicit rules:

  • players must agree on a list with which to fill in each turn
  • players must approve or veto one another’s answers (i.e. answering “coin” for “things with tails” may or may not be awarded points depending on the group of players)
  • a standard game consists of 3 rounds but players choose whether to do continue and complete 6, 9, 12, and so on
  • players must agree during disputes on answers

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

I think that the element on randomness can contribute a spontaneity and suspense to a game. This can make games both more exciting and more frustrating and each of these can be equated to a more compelling game. Having one element of a game be entirely out of all of the players’ control can make for an interesting game. For example, in Mario Party 8, players must punch a dice block at the beginning of the game which decides the order with which they take their turns, which can very well skew how a game is played if the first player rolls a high number on their turn and reaches the star, which is then moved far away from the other players. Overall, I think the element of randomness can make a game compelling through its ability to exciting, confuse, frustrating, infuriate, and more.

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? (BackgammonCitadelsCatan, or other). (Please incorporate concepts from the reading in your answer)

In Settlers of Catan (a game that we did not play in class but it is listed in this question and I have more experience with that game), randomness can really affect the play and strategy. The first happenstance of randomness occurs in setting up the board, where the resource pieces are shuffled and placed in a random order on the board. This affects gameplay as the placement of each player’s settlements in regard to these resources can really affect the final result. I really enjoy and appreciate this aspect of randomness in Catan because having a board that is different each time makes the game more compelling and unique as players have to come up with different strategies to win each time they play.

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)

I think an example of a positive feedback loop could be found in the game Jenga. As players strategically remove the blocks from the tower and place them on top, the game gets increasingly more challenging with each removal and addition. This is a positive feedback loop because, at some point in the game, it becomes impossible to win and the odds against players increase exponentially until the tower imminently falls.

An example of a negative feedback loops would be the power-up items in Mario Kart, and in particular the blue shells. As this item is only ever available to players who are in 4th to 7th place (which varies from game to game) and only targets the player in first place, it helps even out the game, giving players who are not in the top spot in the race an opportunity to catch up.

In your own words explain these concepts from the field of Game Theory: (1) Saddle Point, (2) Prisoners Dilemma, (3) Zero Sum Game

Saddle Point: a way-too-simple solution for winning a game

Prisoners Dilemma: the inability to make a good decision without having knowledge of the opponents’ or other players’ decisions

Zero Sum Game: when the winnings of one player coms directly from the losings of another player. For example, in Mario Party 8 on the Koopa’s Tycoon Town course, all players begin with the same amount of stars which are tied to properties. When a new player lands on another player’s proper and trades a certain amount of coins for it, they then take the star and property from the other character, thus gaining a star and a new property.