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.

Go Fish

Operational Rules:

  1. Shuffle a deck of cards and distribute 5 cards to each player.
  2. Take turns by asking an opponent of your choice (Player B) if he/she has a certain card value in your hand (ex: “Do you have any fours”). If Player B has one or more of that card, that person must hand it/them over to you, if not Player B says “Go Fish” and you draw another card from the pile.
  3. If any player has 4 of a kind in her hand, he/she puts the set down and continues forming more sets
  4. Play until all the cards are placed into sets

Constitutive Rules:

  1. The player must have 4 of the same value cards (Ace, 2-10, Jack, Queen, and King) in her hand of 5.
  2. Each set is a point, whoever has the most points after all the sets have been made is the winner.

Implicit Rules:

     1. You may not look at other player’s hands.

  1. You may not lie (you could but that’s bad manners)
  2. Sitting in a circle is optimal for game play.


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

I think randomness adds a spin to the game that excites the players. Most of the time, players are not calculative or overly strategic but desire fun. It gives the player the notion that there truly is a factor that can be uncalculated and left to chance. Luck begins to become a part of the game and the element of randomness can either help their situation or hurt their situation, giving the possible outcome a twist. I think it serves the audience of the game anticipation by offering the possibilities of “curveballs” in their play. Randomness brings feelings of uncertainty, which makes the game have excitement.


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)

Playing Citadels for the first time, I thought there was randomness towards the players and their decision to either assassinate or steal from another player. Though at times, I know it is strategic in their minds based on their hand or situation, I thought, “Why me?” when I was stolen from or assassinated. Much of the game felt like it was based on chance when starting because the other players weren’t familiar with the game as well. One of the players in my group kept experiencing unfortunate circumstances where she was consistently assassinated or stolen from, leaving her nothing every round. It did make the game more fun because the odds of her misfortune heightened the excitement overall environment.  Although I felt that it was random and just unlucky for her, I noticed that it steered the direction of the game; I saw comprehended that she had the least chance of winning so my focus was off her and on to slow down the player that had the most cards and coins in front of them. This also led the rest of the players to continue to make meaningful choices and decisions based on the “random” circumstances at hand by thinking similarly as I did.


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.

An example of a positive feedback loop is Pick Up Sticks. The player continually adds to the amount of sticks he/she has until there are no more sticks in the pile. It is a game that does not take away from a player at any point but rather continues to reward until the game is done.

An example of a negative feedback loop is Tetris (on facebook). There is an option to play against the an opponent; based on the players’ levels, the person with the higher level receives extra blocks in every round, meaning the person with the lower level receives a handicap or a fairer chance to catch up to the other player.


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

1. Saddle Point

Saddle point is an optimal strategy that leads a player to the fastest way of winning. All other strategies can be abandoned when figuring out that a method ensures victory. For example, a certain boost in a racing game can be played over and over for that person to advance and win the race.

2. Prisoner’s Dilemma

Prisoner’s dilemma is when players choose the option that optimizes Person A’s situation at the determent of Person B or, a “fair” or somewhat equal punishment for Person A and B. If Player A chooses to benefit him/herself and Player B doesn’t, then the punishment is more severe more Player B. This is same vice versa. However, both can try to benefit themselves and both receive severe punishments or they can both choose to not benefit themselves and both receive a less severe punishment.

3. Zero Sum Game

Zero Sum game is when one person’s gain is another’s loss.