Lab 1.0: Theme and Simulation
Theme describes the way a game conveys its setting. Theme is an important part of the appeal of a game. Monopoly's rules aren't really about real estate, but it has the theme of a real estate game: named properies, little plastic houses and hotels, play money, and so on. Even chess has it's theme: pieces are named for parts of a medieval heirarchy, and it's easy to think of the game as a battle between kingdoms. Compare chess to go, which is a similar game but has almost no theme at all.
On the other hand, simulation is about making the game work like something in real life. Monopoly doesn't simulate real estate well, which is why it's so easy to make a zillion other versions of the game. Then there are games like Combat Commander: Europe, which simulates a World War II battle, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, simulating fire fighters rescuing victims from a burning house. Simultaion can also provide some education, if it's done right.
Play one of the games provided in class and then create an artifact that answers the questions below. Be sure to support your answers with evidence. If you miss the class day, you'll need to play one of the games offered in class (ask for the list, as it's subject to change) or get a tabletop game approved by your instructor.
- What game did you play? How would you describe it to someone who's never heard of it?
- Was it a game by our formal definition? What procedural rules, goals, information, game tokens, resources (and methods of managing those resources), opposition, and decision making did it have?
- What did you like and dislike about the game, and why?
- When you first picked up the game, what kind of theme were you expecting? Did it deliver? Did it provide something you weren't expecting? What might have given the game a stronger theme?
- What did you think the game was trying to simulate? What elements of the game simulated that situation? Which parts diverged from the real-life counterpart? What real-life lesson or information could be learned by a student playing this game?