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How do I acquire thee? Let me count the ways.

April 30, 2008

I’m grading a midterm exam right now, and one of the questions on it asks students to give an example of a typical game play paradigm. Most of them are picking territorial acquisition. It’s not at all surprising since it’s probably the most common paradigm in games.

So, how do I acquire thee?

  • I take fish, and eliminate your ability to get onto my island (Hey, That’s My Fish!)
  • I fight for control with three white dice and two red dice (Risk)
  • I shoot, and you fall (Wolfenstein, et al)
  • I buy it (Second Life)
  • I clear it of creatures, and it’s mine (Baldur’s Gate)

I could go on, but it would be more fun to see what you come up with.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Phill Wessels permalink
    April 30, 2008 6:14 pm

    Is there somewhere you’d suggest for me to read up on and become familiar with gameplay paradigms?

  2. April 30, 2008 6:24 pm

    Hi Phil –

    You can find them in a lot of books, the best probably being Theory of Fun by Raph Koster. It’s on my reading list here. It’s currently selling for a ton of money on Amazon now, because it’s temporarily (let’s hope) out of print.

    Off the top of my head:

    * Race to the end
    * Kill/Eliminate everything
    * Cross to the other side
    * Territorial acquisition
    * Collection (who gets the most/least)

    I’m sure there are others. I’ll post more as I think of them.

  3. Phill Wessels permalink
    April 30, 2008 6:43 pm

    Hey, thanks a lot. I definitely want to read Theory of Fun, but finding a copy of it cheap isn’t an easy task.

    I’ll have to think about those, it’s very interesting to consider the different ways they can be used.

    Studying things such as paradigms is somewhat of a daunting challenge for me, though. I’m transferring to a larger university (thankfully), where I think I’ll be able to get a broader education than where I’m at now, but they still do not offer any game courses. I’m going to make an effort to make my own major through a program they have there, but there are some things that I’ll have to educate myself on. Unfortunately it’s like walking in the dark. I have no idea what I’m supposed to study for! 😛

    I try to read blogs and articles to get an idea of at least some things. I think I’m going to join IGDA and see if I can get some direction. I know there’s the curriculum framework, but even with that it’s difficult finding reading material and such to really explore these these academically on my own. I’m glad there are professionals such as yourself who don’t mind helping out a bit. 🙂

  4. Phill Wessels permalink
    April 30, 2008 6:53 pm

    Thinking about it a bit more right off the spot, would these also be paradigms?

    * Strategic hiding / waiting out… maybe just “survival”?
    * Seeking
    * Avoidance of enemies
    * Overcoming obstacles

    Though seeking might be part of kill/eliminate everything in a way. And would avoidance and obstacles be part of crossing to the other side? Hm.

    I suppose escape might be part of racing to the end as well.

  5. April 30, 2008 7:34 pm

    Survival and exploration are paradigms … and I should also note here that “paradigm” can be loosely defined as a set of patterns or mechanics that lead to a particular style of game play. Vocab in this industry is a thing in motion.

    Resource management, avoidance of enemies, overcoming obstacles – I’d class those more with straight dynamics.

    I’d also put “building” in the list.

  6. Phill Wessels permalink
    April 30, 2008 7:40 pm

    Ah, ok. I think I’m beginning to understand the difference between paradigms and dynamics. Thanks.

  7. Malcolm Ryan permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:36 pm

    So, how do I acquire thee?

    * Position pieces to control it (chess)
    * Surround it with stones (go)
    * Build roads to it and settler (settlers)
    * Dominate it with my superior culture (Civ III)
    * Save money and buy it (Sims)

  8. April 30, 2008 10:25 pm

    up up down down left right left right B A

  9. Phill Wessels permalink
    May 3, 2008 3:16 am

    * Target practice?

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