Definitions of Game - Orthogame and Idiogame

Excerpted from Beyond Dungeons & Dragons at PAX AUS 2013, we take on the definition of the word "game." Following on from Garfield's "orthogame," we propose "idiogame" for another class of what all fall under the umbrella of "game." If an orthogame is " a competition between two or more players using an agreed-upon set of rules and a method of ranking," then an idiogame is roughly "a series of interesting decisions that produce a personal outcome."

Judge Anime By Its Cover

Judge Anime by its Cover
Anime Boston 2013

You wouldn't judge a book by its cover, but anime is a whole different ball game. What if we reviewed anime SOLELY by their covers? Would these reviews be accurate? If so, why? Anime, moreso than other works in other media, seem "truer" to their marketing material, and it is our hypothesis that one truly can "review" anime to a great degree soley by their covers.

Mastering Game Mechanics

Mastering Game Mechanics

Presented at PAX East 2013 on Saturday in the Tabletop Theatre, our 21st PAX panel/lecture, in "Mastering Game Mechanics" we take you through a variety of "game mechanics" and consider their use and purpose.

Despite the staggeringly vast variety of games out there in the world, they draw primarily from a core set of basic mechanics. Many games which at first seem very different share fundamental design patterns, subgames, and strategies. What is a “draft,” and more importantly, what is its true function? Where to rondels come into play? What is the purpose of an arbitrary decision? What does “skill based movement” mean for a game? Are all auctions created equally?

Whether you are a player, maker, or even simply observer of games, understanding these core components will provide a surprising degree of insight into their nature. Join us in our 21st PAX panel to explore the nature, lexicon, design, and strategy of game mechanics, drawing from videogames, board games, even role playing games and sports.

Practical Game Theory

Practical Game Theory
PAX East 2013

Presented on Saturday on the Tabletop Theatre, our 22nd PAX panel/lecture, we discuss a variety of game theory concepts and terms from the perspective of practical use as players of games. Being familiar with basic concepts like "cooperation" or "utility," coupled with an extended study of the "toy" games that actually exist as subgames within your games, you will be able to form more powerful heuristics for making good decisions.

We touch ever-so-briefly (and with a degree of oversimplification) on Combinatorial Game Theory, but ask the audience to attempt a sort of "deconstruction" of the class game Nim in order to arrive at some of the same basic principles.

MAGFest Gaming Intellectuals - Video Game Ethics

MAGFest Gaming Intellectuals
Video Game Ethics

Every year, Scott and I attend MAGFest not just to lecture, but also to sit as panelists alongside the rest of the MAGFest "Gaming Intellectuals" on various gaming topics.

Is it truly ethical to design a game to be addictive, or is "addictiveness" simply a sign of good design? Do games change us in more ways than we might realize? Is regulation on the horizon (as we have already seen arising in Japan), a good idea, or even truly possible? How are games different from other media?

MAGFest 11 - Video Game Genres

MAGFest 11 Gaming Intellectuals
Video Game Genres

Every year, Scott and I attend MAGFest not just to lecture, but also to sit as panelists alongside the rest of the MAGFest "Gaming Intellectuals" on various gaming topics. This one, from MAGFest 11 (2013), explores the very idea of genre in videogames (and games in general).

Beyond Candyland - MAGFest 11

Beyond Candyland
MAGFest 11

When most people think of board games, they imagine Monopoly, LIFE, Candyland, Pop-o-Matic Trouble, or perhaps Risk: games primarily of luck. There are, however, board games of skill that you've likely never heard of. Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan may have appeared on the Xbox, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Moreso, despite playing a multitude of games, many people never really move beyond Candy Land. Sure, they're playing games that are (in theory) much more complex than Candy Land, but do they truly progress? Move up the ladder and explore the next level of gaming, game design, and play. These aren't the games you played as a child.

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