Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
This is a topic of models and hypotheses, not realities and truths.
The reality of games is bigger than a topic or a mind. Games stretch causal
threads through players' minds and cultures, back to the history of their
peoples and their species, and forward into all the lives they will affect and
the future cultures that will judge them. A written model can't encapsu-
late this. I haven't even tried. Rather, I've attempted to create a guide to the
craft that describes games in the most useful possible ways. But a guide is
not the truth. It is a simple map to an astonishingly rich and diverse ter-
ritory. No matter how much we learn, we shouldn't forget that the reality
is much greater.
Games are mental models for pieces of life.
A game is not a chain of events like a story. It's a system. It crystallizes
some part of the world into a set of mechanics and packages them up for
us to play with. Instead of just showing us one thread of events the way
a story does, it allows us to experience that piece of the world, again and
again in a hundred variations. And that exploratory interaction teaches in
ways that stories cannot.
After a failure punches my confidence in the gut, I think of poker.
Poker has a message. Roughly translated into written words, the message
of poker is that nobody wins every hand. But just reading that here isn't
the same as playing the game. The phrase, “Nobody wins every hand,” is
just a piece of text to be filed away in memory. Only playing the game gets
the mind running through that pattern over and over in a thousand varia-
tions. That repeated interaction doesn't just create memories. It restruc-
tures how we think. We don't just end up knowing that nobody wins every
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