Incomplete thoughts on Loops and Arcs

The 'game' aspect of this beast we call a computer game always involves 'loops'. The player starts with a mental model that prompts them to, apply an action to the game system and in return receives feedback that updates their mental model. These loops are fractal and occur at multiple levels and frequencies throughout a game. They are almost always exercised multiple times, either within a game or by playing the game multiple times. This yields complex feedback loops and unexpected dynamics.

Those elements that forms 'arcs' have similar elements, but are not built for repeated usage. The player starts with a mental model, they apply an action to a system and receive feedback. This arc of interaction could be reading a book or watching a movie. However, the mental model that is updated rarely results in the player returning to the same interaction. The movie is watched. The book consumed. An arc is a broken loop you exit immediately.

(A minority turn arcs into loops. In the case of the Bible, we call this religion and it is one of the grander games that humankind has ever played. In other cases of 'deep reading of texts' we call the invented game 'criticism'.)

Instances of arcs are almost never critical game elements. You can remove them and still have a playable game.
- Puzzles
- Missions
- Narrative sequences that are not specifically a type of feedback within a loop.

To take this one step further, the elements of a computer game that you can 'beat' so that it renders the game boring or meaningless upon repeated play are the least game-like elements.

Evergreen games tend to have a predominance of loops and far less emphasis on arcs. Sports, Politics, Economics and other long running social games also tend to emphasize loops.

To critique modern computer games: Too many arcs. Not enough focus on great repeatable loops.
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