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Economics and Game design

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Redcap
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Joined: 07/26/2008

When I was a wee little lad I use to think economics was supply and demand, you understand these two principles and you have it made. And it got me through high school economics and even a very rigorous college course. The older I get; however, I see that economics is more people acting upon incentive and de-centive. The only reason supply and demand exist is because someone wants something and are willing to do or pay a certain amount for it.

What does this have to do with board game design? Well I have just played 2 games I made for the first time with large amounts of people and the games went better than I had planned because the players did and acted exactly the way I wanted them too and the reason they acted the way I wanted wasn't because I told them how I envisioned the game necessarily or because I had rules telling them how to act at all times but rather because I put incentives in the game for the player to act the way I wanted them too.

I had a dungeon crawl game in which I didn't want the players sticking together at all times, so I put a simple rule that gave a large reward to the player who was the first to discover and enter a new room. Everyone wanted the best for themselves and naturally split apart and without me saying anything; they did precisely what I wanted.

I was literally so pleased with the results of the two games that I had to just share how I did it in hopes that others might benefit from economics. Most of us already do this, but it was worth mentioning.

The Game Crafter
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Joined: 06/09/2009
It is supply and demand

Supply and demand are how economics work, but how you create demand is something different. There's marketing, psychology, peer pressure, trends, branding, etc. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell explains many of these pressures.

In your case though, I don't think it's so much about economics as it is risk vs reward. If you're exploring a deep dark dungeon, it makes sense for your safety to stick together. However, you have provided an incentive for the party to go off on their own. And it appears that your incentive (reward) was great enough for the players to assume additional risk.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Greed is good. Greed works. It clarifies and cuts through...

Redcap wrote:
(T)he games went better than I had planned because the players did and acted exactly the way I wanted them too and the reason they acted the way I wanted wasn't because I told them how I envisioned the game necessarily or because I had rules telling them how to act at all times but rather because I put incentives in the game for the player to act the way I wanted them too.
This makes me very happy. On the rare occasions when someone asks me for game design advice (or on the more frequent occasions when I start ranting about game design), this is a favorite (and recurring) topic of mine.

I like the reward rule you used to reward shape behavior. Elegant, metaphysically consistent, and easy to grasp. Very nice!

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