2011-01-10 : Social Context and Design
Let’s start with Ben, since Ben so graciously provides us such a good start.
Let me pull out two quotes. First is from the comments on June 18’s post, by James:
Use Ron’s advice for writing games: visualize what you want play to look like, and only use rules that support that. Except in this case: Visualize who you want to play your game, and only use rules to appeal to that set of people.
This is how I design. For Apocalypse World, in my imagination, I started with Meg, assembled a playgroup of her favorite people to play with, and designed a game that they would love. At every step of the design, I held my work up to “will Meg and her playgroup do this? Will they do it enthusiastically, instinctively, with relish?” If I didn’t think they would, into the dustbin, no more consideration.
Second is from June 21’s post, by Ben:
A great example of a game that fails to consider the social context level of play is my own Polaris. My self-identified “target audience” is people who have been through the Amber / Nobilis / Theatrix / Freeform cycle of play, and are frustrated at the stalling of those games and the “certain sameness” that creeps into the play of each one—essentially a slow drift towards Gamism with a strong emphasis on precedent and pre-positioning. Systematically, Polaris can answer to this in a number of ways (giving strong system tools for making things happen without a heavy mechanical component), but it totally fails on the social context level. The players we’re speaking of are largely mid-20s to late-30s. They are professional types with jobs, children, highly stable gaming groups, etc. The game fails in two ways. First, it requires a specific number of players… This may require breaking up the old gaming group, something these players would never do. Furthermore, it absolutely and totally requires everyone’s presence at every session… And, by presence, I mean full on-the-ball awareness. It has no concessions for sick kids, vacations, a rough day at work, whatever. This, it will be attractive to them as a game, but I imagine most players will find getting through a full 4-6 session storyline difficult.
I learned that lesson! When I designed Apocalypse World for Meg and her ideal playgroup, I designed it to be fun and rewarding for them, yes, and I also designed it to fit into their lives. It gracefully accommodates sick kids, vacations, off-the-ball players, long stretches with no play, changes in the playgroup, individual cycles and levels of engagement and disengagement.
There’s lots more to talk about in Ben’s posts. But to start, designing for a social context means design, long before it means publication and marketing.
1. On 2011-01-10, Vincent said:
2. On 2011-01-10, Simon C said:
3. On 2011-01-10, Vincent said:
4. On 2011-01-10, Vincent said:
5. On 2011-01-10, TomR said:
6. On 2011-01-10, Simon C said:
7. On 2011-01-10, Simon C said:
8. On 2011-01-11, Meguey said:
9. On 2011-01-11, Simon C said:
10. On 2011-01-11, Tim Ralphs said:
11. On 2011-01-12, Per said:
12. On 2011-01-12, Bret said:
13. On 2011-01-12, Mike said:
14. On 2011-01-13, Jeff Russell said:
15. On 2011-01-13, Paul T. said:
16. On 2011-01-14, Tim Ralphs said:
17. On 2011-01-18, Vincent said:
18. On 2011-01-19, Matt Wilson said:
19. On 2011-01-22, Zac in VA said:
20. On 2011-01-25, Vincent said:
21. On 2011-01-25, Seth Ben-Ezra said:
22. On 2011-02-03, Marshall B said:
23. On 2011-02-03, Vincent said: