The sole purpose of a game is to create a medium through which players can interact.

The measure of a game lies in the interaction it fosters -- whether it encourages it, formalizes it to ritual, inspires new interaction, or constrains it into different shapes. A game that stifles interaction is boring and pointless. However, a game that allows otherwise strangers to interact on common ground is comforting; a game that pushes its players to interact on different levels is intense; a game that allows players to interact in ways that they've been unable to before is liberating.

This impacts every level of design and play, down to the technique and ephemera level. Mechanics that privilege one player to speak without interruption (and interaction) for extended periods of time may seem like a good idea, but in the end they actually detract from the game experience. This is true whether the mechanics privilege the GM or the player who just won a die roll. The point isn't to get your say; the point is to participate in a dialogue. There are other players at the table for a reason; the other players are the point.

The game is merely a medium created to allow the players to interact with each other. Everything else -- the "content," the "theme," the "mechanics" -- either forwards that goal or gets in the way. The essential core is people talking. The stuff that fosters that is good; the stuff that gets in the way needs to be ripped out.

I need to rewrite bits of FLFS.

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Josh, I'm down with this,


I'm down with this, with one caveat: The essential core is not 'people talking', but rather 'people interacting'. I think that's probably what you meant, but the distinction is an important one. It's important to remember that interaction can take many forms, and only a few of them are verbal.

Oh, and for personal gratification: was any of this, even partially, sparked by my recent stuff on games as interfaces? Or is this just one of those awesome instances of parallel development?


"People talking" is my

"People talking" is my casual-speak for "player-participants interacting." So yeah. ;)

...and since I don't know what you're referring to about interfaces, I guess it's parallel development. Link me the interface talk?

Huzzah for multiple people

Huzzah for multiple people seeing obvious stuff at rougly the same time!

My overview of interface stuff went up right before Gen Con. My current plans are to have at least two more posts on the subject in the coming weeks.


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