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Christopher Alexander and Board Game Design

4 replies [Last post]
larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

I have just finished an article that explores the possibility to apply Christopher Alexander's 15 properties theory to board game design.

I intend to gather more comments and examples before making a detailed guide for each property since there are still properties which are very hard to apply or simply visualize.

The article can be found here:

You can leave the comments in this thread.

I hope you will enjoy this.

Thank You
Eric P626

Taffer's picture
Joined: 04/14/2012
That was an interesting line

That was an interesting line you drew. I haven't read Alexander yet, but I should -- he seems to get referenced from all kinds of disciplines. I'm not sure I agree 100% with how you applied the properties to game mechanics, but it's interesting to think about.

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
At first glance, it appears

At first glance, it appears you're applying observations about visual art to something that is not visual art, games. Games are what happens in the minds of the players when the mechanics interact with the player actions. Visuals are a minor part, and some games have no visuals at all.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
True, but there is another

True, but there is another way to see this. The theory of centers creates center from the visual aspects of objects. Then the 15 properties are applied to the centers and their relations with other centers.

So it's true that the "conversion" from visuals to centers does not exists for mechanics. But if you consider mechanics to be already a centers, then you can apply the 15 properties to these centers.

Joined: 07/09/2012
I haven't read the whole article...

I will read it when I have more time.

Therefore, I can't say whether I precisely agree with you... but I will say that I believe in Principles of Design which have always been applicable to me in all of my creative projects.

The effects of things like symmetry and asymmetry. Dynamics. Simplicity. Even just the idea that you build a solid foundation BEFORE you focus on details - something I learned while painting (the hard way, because I really like details) - is a useful thing to figure out and remember.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in some small detail of your game design (or painting, or musical arrangement) long before you know if you'll even need that particular detail. The whole thing could be garbage - so the detail won't matter.

So for me - I had to learn from painting how to spot when I was doing this, and it is still very hard to stop myself. I still do it, but it isn't because the principle is wrong, but it is my failure to hold to that principle.

In my experience, the foundation of good design is the same in all forms.
Whether it's a well-written song, a beautifully composed photograph, or a solid bit of UI on a website - the foundation, the principles, are really the same. To get better at one form, can allow you to improve in all areas - if you are paying attention.

Everything is applicable.

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