Episode 15 – Presentation is Some of the Total

This time we discuss the ways a game’s method of presentation can impact it’s design, and it’s ability to be read and understood by players.

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  1. I’m going through your backlog, and I’m listening to this episode right now.
    There are a huge number of books full of rules for children’s games like tag and ring around the rosie.
    While we currently talk about hacking rpgs, but rpgs aren’t static and have always mutated from group to group and region to region. No two groups play GURPS the same way. If you track the history of D&D, you’ll find hundreds of local play groups, some of which published their how to play D&D stuff. Arduin springs to mind. (Listen to different aps of Apocalypse world. There are absolutely hundreds of ways people play AW, different play experiences akin to regional variants of Tag that aren’t AW hacks, but different play cultures.

    Also, as someone who has been playing RPGs for 25 years, I would say that more people have rpgs transmitted as oral traditions than as books. I might learn a game I dm by reading a book, but odds are that unless I’m patient zero in my region, I probably had someone else tell me how the game works and then got the book for reference. My players have usually (~75%) learned new games from me (I wish they’d engage the books more often, it would make my life easier) with the books being used later as reference.


    1. While impossible to say for sure, I’d say that seems quite true. Nowadays there’s also people learning rules from listening to actual plays of the game, or just Googling a question on the go. But it’s fair to say that the book isn’t always the place most rules are learned from. That might also mean that it’s more important for the book to make sure the critical parts are clear, so misinformation isn’t passed on.


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