Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Adventure Games and the Designer's Worldview

If you are seeing this post, chances are I accidentally posted it as its been in various draft stages for several years.

But I wanted to go on a pseudo-intellectual ramble about how an adventure game is shaped by the worldview of its designer due to how the mechanics function.

Gygaxian D&D is based upon a slow grind, the careful management of risk and accumulation of wealth through sound decisions.  Not only is wealth the point,  but reckless behaviour (even if beneficial in the short term) is a foolish choice.  It is about winning wars not battles,  you don't succeed by pulling off a big score through daring and luck.  You succeed with diligence, hard work and patience until you have enough wealth to buy your castle and retire.  Intentional or not, that is the mythical golden age of America middle class success story. It is also what originally (though I couldn't put my finger on it way back then) seemed off about D&D.

Neoclassical Geek Revival is about risking death on a razor's edge to get the big score.  Playing it safe lets you safely fail in a slow decline.  Wealth isn't the point, it is a means to an end.  Exploration and reputation are the point, and what you use wealth to finance.  The mortality/abject failure rate for characters is absurdly high, but advancement can be vastly faster. Retirement happens when you run out of ambition and just settle down to play it safe. That much more closely resembles my own worldview.

I'd be interested to see how this kind of faux-insight could be applied to other games and their creators.

What the hell, I haven't posted much lately, I may as well post this rather than continue to post nothing.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting idea that I had never thought of. As a game mechanic tinkerer it has made me pause and really contemplate the assumptions of changes that I like making in games and how that is impacted by my ideology.

    This also raises the interesting question of 'how/why we are drawn to games?' Do we naturally gravitate to games that are rooted in a similar ideology? Does ideology/world view of the participants (Players and GM) impact the longevity of a campaign or how quickly the campaign takes to hit it's stride?

    A lot of good food for thought and keep those posts coming!