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Ludosophy

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RAF
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Joined: 11/17/2008

Folks,

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me why I was addressing myself as a game designer. He stated," You're more like an artist or philosopher or something who makes games. It's more than just design..."

I thought about this for quite some time and have thought about the range of different labels used by some people - i.e. game designer, inventor, ludographer, author, game creator, etc. As I often stated, I consider our "craft" a fine art. I'd like to somehow make the distinction between those of us who's approach falls in line with this....

I've been playing around with the phrase "ludosophy" as a way to highlight an approach where "designing" is just one aspect in ones area of interest when it comes to games. It could also include the philosophy, sociology, aesthetics, history, etc.

I have no definition. And I'm not look for a "prententious" phrase here. I'm more interested in "shaping" the concept to portray an area of study in which "games" are the focal point. Whether from the perspective of a player, designer, historian, etc. I personally spend as much time playing games and studying the history of traditional games of classic strategy as I do designing them. Does this make me a "game historian" or "game player" exclusively ? - see what I mean...

I'd like to hear other's thoughts on this...

Be well,

RAF
Ludosopher

Anonymous
Ludosophy

Hello again RAF,

Ludosophy? Is the prefix Ludo chosen for a specific reason, say Latin for games or something? Whatever the case may be, a term used to describe the study a games in all its forms is cool.

What your friend said about you being more like an artist, phiosopher, etc. who creates games reminds me of something I read about Ayn Rand; the author of Atlus Shrugged, The Fountain Head, other books and is the "creator" of the philosophy of Objectivism. What it is I read was that she studied philosophy a great deal, but her goal wasn't to just be a philosopher. Her study of philosophy was a means to an end; the end being her goal to write fictional literature with a kind of depth not commonly found in many works.

It seems to me your approach to game design is a deep immersion into all aspects of games and game creation. I myself should be so lucky as to find myself so immersed in these things, but like you, my goal is to create games.

Well...a few thoughts.

Have fun!

-Vexx

RAF
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Joined: 11/17/2008
Ludosophy

Vexx,

Ludo in latin means "to play or play a game, etc." and combined with the word "sophia" from the Greek which means "wisdom" = Ludosophy.

I've read "Atlas Shrugged", but I didn't know that specifically about her studying philosophy as a means to an end - thanks. Another example is that of Duke Ellington (Jazz). He was a great pianist, but he didn't strive to be one. He played the piano in order to compose his music.

My approach to games is similiar to this. I do not seek to be a great player at GO or Chess as an end in itself, but to explore the depths of different scenarios and situations. To learn the "flow" of particular game and see where it takes me. The 'flow' of Makruk (Thai Chess) is quite different to that of Xiang Qi (chinese chess) for example. Sometimes I get lucky and discover a beautiful piece of "logic" hidden in the 'engine' of some of these games.

Academically, my BA is in Philosophy actually and I plan to obtain my PHD one day. But my interest is not in Philosophy per se, but in the tools gained from the discipline itself. It helps to learn how to "ask the right questions" in ones design...

At the end of the day too, my goal is create games and to do it well...

-RAF
Ludosopher

Anonymous
Ludosophy

I think that me and most of my friends could be considered Ludosophers by your definition...

Anonymous
My view...

I do agree agree with you, that you've transcended the generic label of game designer in the typical perception of the role. What you are decribing here is more of a "gamer" lifestyle that bleeds over into game design. Your designs stem from a deep love of the culture or mystique that surrounds the hobby of gaming in general. I don't know if there is a term that uniquely fits your description as yet. While I admire your passion I feel no seperation in respect to game design. The art of game design is as unique as feeling you describe. A five year old can invent a roll and move game, and a 100 year old gaming grandmaster can invent an abstract strategy masterpiece, but both are "game designers." Whose to say that one is "better" than the other? Art is a subjective thing, as the variety of games testifies. Because you live and breathe game design principles and concepts and cultures, your angle of design may be different, yet we are both technically "designers".

RAF
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Joined: 11/17/2008
Ludosophy

I agree that there is no difference in the act of designing itself. In this respect, the difference may lie with "how" I do it rather than what I actually do. Perhaps because of this, I am intuitively seeking a distinction.

But also too, I see game designing as one "fruit" of my labor. My particular game, Zhadu, involves a fictional narrative which provides further insight into the game itself. Eventually, I will bring this storyline more to the forefront and hopefully develop a book of fiction that delves more in depth about the story. This too would be another "fruit" of the process. At the heart of all of his are various ideas that I'm exploring in these different forms of expression.

This is just one example of how I see the concept "ludosophy" could work. An area of study and/or discipline in which the subject of "games" is the focus. The so-called,"ludosopher" may or may not actually design. They may just be a player and explore the many varieties of experiences, etc.

I welcome your insights...

-RAF

Anonymous
Ludosophy

RAF,

I'm intrigued to find out more of the story of Zhadu, as you put it. I take it, the premis has to do with the premis of the game; "the Sharing"? Did the story you have in mind develope from your game or the game from the story?

I think the term Ludosophy is a good word for anyone who makes it a practice to involve themselves in a game or games deeply. I don't know if it applies as well to a more casual gamer. The term of course applies well to anyone who researches games in their many aspects.

Have fun!

-Vexx

RAF
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Joined: 11/17/2008
Ludosophy

The story of Zhadu revolves around a fictional, ancient scribe known as "Hakummar". In the actual rulebook of Zhadu, there is a page that has a letter from Hakummar which speaks briefly of his experience with Zhadu.
It is through his journals, letters, and notes that we learn more about discovery of Zhadu and some insight into those whom it learned it from.

Zhadu is the first "chapter" of Hakummar's journey. The next "chapter" so to speak will be released sometime soon.

The story developed as I was creating Zhadu. The more research I did into the history of classic strategy games, the more I became fascinated by the "narrative tradition" in how these games were communicated - i.e. poems, stories, diaries, letters, artwork, etc. While most of these display strategies and tactics, there were also elements that spoke of the culture surrounding the games. Specifically how the games were approached by by those who engaged them.

Japanese Go is a perfect example. There lies a custom of ethics in playing the game in which elevates the game to an "art" in the eyes of some. The complimentary "character building" aspect of playing is honored in a very special way...

The came across recently the term, "Ludology" which was defined as a study of games in general, video games specifically. From this, the term "Ludosophy" resonates more with what you had mentioned as a "practice" or deeper approach.

How about "Ludosophy - the philosophy of games" or "Ludosophy - the philosophy of game design" ?

I welcome your thoughts on this....

Be well,

RAF

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