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Rules of Play and another new board game book

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Rules of Play
Game Design Fundamentals
by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman.
Had asked for an examination copy a while back and received it today.

Will check it out and post a review.

Reiner Knizia's Commissioned Essay is titled "The design and testing of the Board Game - Lord of the Rings" and is divided in these sections:

-Design Process
-Scripted Game System
-More Changes
-The Road Goes Ever On

For those who are considering purchasing it, here's a copy of the contents:

Foreword - Frank Lantz


1 About This Book

2 The Design Process

Commissioned Essay - Reiner Knizia

UNIT 1: Core Concepts

3 Meaningful Play

4 Design

5 Systems

6 Interactivity

7 Defining Games

8 Defining Digital Games

9 The Magic Circle

10 The Primary Schemas: RULES, PLAY, CULTURE

Commissioned Game - Richard Garfield

UNIT 2: Rules

11 Defining Rules

12 Rules on Three Levels

13 The Rules of Digital Games

14 Games as Emergent Systems

15 Games as Systems of Uncertainty

16 Games as Information Theory Systems

17 Games as Systems of Information

18 Games as Cybernetic Systems

19 Games as Game Theory Systems

20 Games as Systems of Conflict

21 Breaking the Rules

Commissioned Game - Frank Lantz


22 Defining Play

23 Games as the Play of Experience

24 Games as the Play of Pleasure

25 Games as the Play of Meaning

26 Games as Narrative Play

27 Games as the Play of Simulation

28Games as Social Play

Commissioned Game - Kira Snyder


29 Defining Culture

30 Games as Cultural Rhetoric

31 Games as Open Culture

32 Games as Cultural Resistance

33 Games as Cultural Environment

Commissioned Game - James Ernest

Additional Reading and Resources



List of Games Cited


The Games We Played. The Golden Age of Board and Table Games by Margaret Hofer

As families are rediscovering the joys and virtues of staying and entertaining at home, board games have surged in popularity - indeed, sales doubled in the last year alone. This mirrors a trend in the late nineteenth century - the heyday of American board and table gamesúúwhen, fueled by the introduction of color lithography, an explosion in the production of games coincided with a growing need for middle-class social entertainment.

Then, like now, the games that best captured players' imaginations mimicked, and sometimes poked fun at, the culture that produced them. Organized around themes such as courtship, commerce, travel, sports, and city life, The Games We Played brings together over one hundred eye-catching examples of America's rare and popular board games, such as The Game of Playing Department Store, which encouraged players to accumulate the greatest quantity of goods while spending their money as economically as possible, and Bulls and Bears: The Great Wall St. Game, in which players try their hand as speculators, bankers, and brokers, yelling each other down as if in a trading pit.

This playful visual survey and its thematic essays will cause board and table game aficionados to share in the revelry of togetherness.
Margaret K. Hofer is associate curator of decorative arts at the New-York-Historical Society.

PAPress, 2003, 10.25 x 10.5 inches (26.0 x 26.7 cm), Hardcover binding, 176 pages, 160 four-color plates

Joined: 08/28/2008
Rules of Play and another new board game book

I'm rather interested in the second book. Do you know whether there's an ISDN code for it. I don't know whether this is a international standard, but it's what we use in the Netherlands to keep track of different books.

Rules of Play and another new board game book

The Games We Played. The Golden Age of Board and Table Games
by Margaret Hofer

The ISBN is 1568983972

Amazon has got it.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Rules of Play and another new board game book

I've been intrigued by the first book ever since I heard it was coming out. I look forward to your review, and thanks for the ToC.

The second is intriguing as well, and I'd not heard of it. I'll have to check it out, too.

Thanks for the info!

-- Matthew

Rules of Play and another new board game book

Well, the book is really thick (over 600 pages...) so it is going to take me a little while to go over it, but in the meantime I found a couple of chapters in PDF format. Here are the links:





Joined: 12/31/1969
Rules of Play and another new board game book

ok, so i just checked out the user reviews over at amazon...

looks like it's either love it or hate it.

has anyone actually read it that can give us a review here?
any insight as to whether it is or is not worth the fifty bones? (yes i realize that's a subjective question)

odd that the reviewers seem so polar opposite on their feelings towards this book.
actually, now that i think of it the people that didn't like it seemed more upset with the thought that the authors didn't have a hundred games under their belt. like "how dare they presume to know about something than me if they've not published more games than me?"


anyway, if you've read it please let us know.

Scurra's picture
Joined: 09/11/2008
Rules of Play and another new board game book

Sorry, I haven't really got into it yet either - it's sitting on my rather large "to read" pile and it looks too intimidating to start!

Rules of Play and another new board game book

I have read through it and must agree with the description that Amazon uses as an introduction. The book is written under the premise that " design has yet to develop a theoretical framework or critical vocabulary..."

Just to read the book's description, and you know, right away, that it is not a how-to book. It is a critical look at game design from an academic point of view and that is what I like about it.

This critical approach, similar to attempts to look at -for example- art, in my opinion, elevates the appreciation of game designing to a category it didn't had before.

The description continues:

"[The book] Offers a unified model for looking at all kinds of games, from board games and sports to computer and video games."

And the authors do exactly that:

"They look at games through a series of eighteen "game design schemas," or conceptual frameworks, including games as systems of emergence and information, as contexts for social play, as a storytelling medium, and as sites of cultural resistance. Written for game scholars, game developers, and interactive designers, Rules of Play is a textbook, reference book, and theoretical guide. It is the first comprehensive attempt to establish a solid theoretical framework for the emerging discipline of game design."

Rules of Play Looks A-OK

> I found a couple of chapters in PDF format. Here
> are the links:

Impressive. The Forward and the Preface were enough for me. I want to get my hands on this book!!!

I must say I was disappointed with one amazon reviewer who claimed that the book wasn't worth buying because you could find all this information on the internet for free. Even if that's true, there's certainly value in compilation and having it in book form. Hell, I could read Ulysses or Huckleberry Finn online for free if I wanted to stare at a computer screen for hours.

Anyway, it appears that the book's purpose is more to inspire than to teach. Even if it's just telling me something I already know, it's refreshing to read serious prose and insight on something I love to do.

I'm getting it.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Read bits and Pieces

I have read a chapter here and there of the book and I have mixed feelings at best with what I have read so far.

I found the best parts of the book were the exerts from famous desingers: Knizia, James Ernst, Richard Garfield and some notable others. The exerts had these fine designers describing the design process of a game they were creating. I found it very illuminating on what they did.

I was a philosophy major in college, and the best I can describe of this book is a sort of philosophy book. It goes in to a lot theory on what a game is, presents various definitions of pertinent ideas and uses a lot of examples from computer games to illustrate its points.

It does touch on using evolutionary form of design and making a prototype as early as possible as well as the psychology of gaming with a brief discourse on rewarding players and creating tension.

If you are looking for concrete practical advice on designing your game, you won't really find anything. It doesn't discuss such issues as the advantages/disadvantages of using dice versus cards, the notion of multiple victory conditions, keeping rules concise, clear and complete -- the type of advice given to designer's creating a board game.

Some parts I found quite brilliant and full of good points, but if your looking for a manual on tips, tricks and a map of actually designing a game - you won't find it here.


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