February 10, 2014

Game Format: Competitive, Cooperative, and Semi-Quasi-Collaboration Games


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One of my interesting side projects has been working with a few other BGG’ers in the Game Genome Project Guild. I’ve referenced this earlier on the blog, but the Game Genome Project (2.0) is an effort to start mapping all of the various characteristics of games across a number of different traits. One of the topics that’s been a fascinating source of speculation and reasoning has been the “Game Format” traits.

The “Game Format” trait is an attempt to describe the structure of a game in terms of its possible win conditions and teaming arrangements. Broadly, this trait can be used to define whether a game is cooperative or competitive (or in between), and whether formal teams are allowed and whether those teams are known, hidden, dynamic, or static over the course of the game. The effort to map all of this has led to some interesting observations – most notably that there are a lot of gaps where there do not appear to be many (or any) games that exist. Designers, get motivated!

This blog post will present the game format flow chart (enlarged at the end) by way of explaining the approach and key ideas that the brain trust developed. I should note that two fellow BGG’ers have been instrumental in developing this, and are equal collaborators on the effort. So big a shout out to FlyingArrow and Selwyth.