Okay so I have a lot of ideas about games myself but since I have been reading this game design book, The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell, I mostly want to discuss the new ideas he is presenting and review them to get them in my mind and yours.
Themes – A game theme is important for multiple reasons. Primarily it helps players to enter into the make believe realm of the game. When playing a game we all enter into a pretend state placing value on outcomes that would have little or no value outside of the game. Themes can be shallow or deep depending on the design. Some games benefit greatly from themes and others, abstract games, games of chance do just fine without them. Chess is a great example in that it is a game based entirely on skill and requires logic and risk analysis. The pieces could easily be abstracted and the game would still offer a deep strategic experience but by assigning each piece a corresponding name that loosely matches their power players are able to identify with the pieces more and for me at least that helps me to think about the overall game. Themes are especially important for learning a new game as they give players a way into the game world. If chess pieces were all abstracted, this tetrahedron is able to move diagonally, and don’t let your rhombus be captured, we could still learn to play but the connection would be just that abstract.
Another example. Cribbage is one of my favorite games and has only a very loose theme. I tend to think of it as some kind of race but beyond that I am just counting points. It is very fun to play and not difficult to learn but I think it might be both easier to learn and more enjoyable if it had a concrete theme. A horse race and horse shaped pieces is an easy step. Then hand names could be called by different horse racing techniques. The naming of hands might be too much overlay and what might be better is to build hands and scoring that somehow reflect the horseracing theme.
So there you have it gemini Tim sometimes theme is important, sometimes not. But if building a game with a theme I think it is essential to have the various mechanics, structures and scoring of the game reflect the theme as much as possible.
Until next time.