thread: 2005-08-11 : Selling Rules

On 2005-08-13, TonyI wrote:

You need to tell us players where the fun is. You can't just write a book which has rules for a fun game, it needs to tell us specifically what are the fun parts in your game and how your game brings us there. Not as an advertising blurb, but as honest commentary on the process of playing your game.

It would be smooth to print a book of bare rules and sit back and wait for the reports to come in of how a group "got" what your marvellous game is all about. You know the fun is in there, and when we've played it we'll find it too right? But as you've described, people who are already having fun won't persist in searching for the Easter Eggs of fun hidden in a new ruleset. I've got a box full of games full of Easter Eggs I'll never find. Some of them are Forge games. Sometimes on the Forge I'll see a designer talk and give hints about those Easter Eggs and I kick myself over how much fun it sounds. But I should be kicking them, they should have written about it in the game that I bought off them and tried to run.

You need to tell us where the fun is up front, so we know we're playing the game to have that kind of fun. You need to describe for us the real life emotions, thoughts and exchanges that you're expecting to happen inside and between players because that's where the fun is in playing a roleplaying game right? All that needs to be in your rule book, and it needs to be splattered all the way through the rule book not just at the end in an appendix or at the beginning in an introduction. How else are we going to know what and where the fun is?

Ron Edward's gamism essay told me where the fun was. Carefully listed for me what I could be feeling, and what I could be saying, and the way I could be treating other real life people while playing a roleplaying game. It described mysterious dirty things I'd dimly felt before while playing but had felt ashamed of and never acknowledged as "the fun". I went out and bought some games and enlisted people and we went searching for those Easter Eggs in the rules. We knew what we were looking for this time, someone had finally told us what to look for, and that's how we found the fun.

Some of us will stay say "I didn't get it". Different tastes right? But at least there'll be less who can say "I couldn't find it."


This makes JonasK go "Very nicely put."

This makes MH go "Yes!"

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