I've been consumed by thinking about Play Anything since I finished reading it over the holidays. It's Ian Bogost's book about play, what it really is from his perspective, in contrast to how we think about it culturally. And I think it's profound. It's one of those ideas that's not at all how we think now, but that will seem obvious in hindsight in a year or two. It's a bit overwritten and repetitive. I think it could have made its argument at 80% or less of its published length. But I forgive it, because if I admit its perspective, and its associated terminology--ironoia, etc.--it changes how I think about design, about the value in games, about the expectations I make of players, and even about what makes a game publishable. It's absolutely going to change how I think about and talk about games.
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- I'm curious what some of those thoughts are, but maybe that's being saved as material for future posts / games?7w
- I'm also curious about your new thoughts and perspectives. Your post interested me enough that I started reading the book, but so far my reaction isn't nearly as positive as yours seems to be.7w
- When I accept his assertion that play is about limitations and happens in constructed "playgrounds" in which the player accepts the limitations and works to find the play in them, it provokes lots of thoughts. Some like:
If it's players that determine the "magic circle" boundary of what's part of the playground and what's not, as in the example of the woman who liked Cow Clicker because of the friendships it fostered for her, then what is the necessary value brought by the game designer?
In games with multiple players, how problematic is it if all players don't map the magic circle to include exactly the same things. For instance, what if one player considers the emotional states of the other players to be within the playground of the game and another considers them to be outside? Should a game consider this mapping problem? Have a way of addressing it? How so?
There's a trend in RPG design to try to make texts less subjective, less equivocal, better conveying of a reproducible play experience. But if players are responsible for a certain attitude of respecting a "playground" and working to find the play in it, then are other kinds of texts possible and interesting?7w
- "For instance, what if one player considers the emotional states of the other players to be within the playground of the game and another considers them to be outside?"
Like a griefer, for example?
"In games with multiple players, how problematic is it if all players don't map the magic circle to include exactly the same things."
Do you think this is the same question as "Creative Agenda coherence" from Forge theory, or are there differences?7w
- Well, I ask myself something like, "Is the emotional state of other players within the playground for board game play?" Is it something that players manipulate? I think it is, at least for some players. Is it for all players? What is the x-card? Isn't it a hack that says that under certain circumstances in RPG play that players need better alerts for the presence of other players' emotional states, so that they play accordingly? Why is there no equivalent for the x-card in the board game scene?7w
- Are those just things you're pondering, or do you want to discuss them?7w