3 3 Different Kinds of Rules
2.1. Game Bricks
In accordance to Propp’s methodology, we have developed a tool suited to theindexation and analysis of a large videogames corpus. This quantitativeapproach should raise eventual recurrent aspects likely to become criteria fora classification.We based our corpus on as large a period of time as possible, in order tolimit the impact of technical evolution on the results we may observe.However, we had to define several limitations to the videogames likely to joinour corpus:(i)single player games only;(ii)computer games only;(iii)games based on bothaudio and graphical output. The 588 games in our corpus were chosen after anonline alphabetical list of videogames titles; however, the great majority ofthem are “arcade games” or “casual games.”Thanks to our tool, we have proposed a first step for the development of aclassification criterion: we have emphasized the “Game Bricks” (Figure 3), the“fundamental elements” whose different combinations seem to match thedifferent rules and goals of videogames.After analysis , we noticed that every “Game brick” corresponds to a“recurrent template” in the rules of videogames.For example, two games such as “Pac-man” and “space invaders” features thefollowing rules:(i)“If Pac-man collides with Ghost, then destroy Pacman.”(ii)“If Spaceshipcollides with Enemy’s shot, then destroy Spaceship.” We notice a very strongsimilarity between these rules and we can consider, therefore, that they arebuilt on the following template: “If player element collides with a hostileelement, then there is a negative feedback towards the player element.”This template is then the definition of a “Game brick,” namely, the AVOIDbrick. So far, we have identified ten “Game bricks,” all built upon this sameprinciple.For example, the Game bricks featured in “Pac-man” are “MOVE,” meaning theplayer can move an avatar; “AVOID” for the ghosts you have to avoid; “DESTROY”for the dots you have to eat; and “MATCH” because you have to match each dot’sspatial position to destroy it.But you can also find these bricks in a racing game like “Need for Speed”:MOVE a car, AVOID opponents, and MATCH on checkpoints you have to DESTROY.When reached a checkpoint becomes “out of the game” and is not reachableanymore, so it can be considered “destroyed,” just like any dot eaten by Pac-man.Nevertheless, even within their rules, these two games are different: themovement and thus the “MOVE” brick features two dimensions in “Pac-man,” butthree in “Need for Speed Carbon”; the number of checkpoints to reach in Needfor Speed is much smaller than the number of dots that Pac-man has to swallow;the movement of the elements to avoid is different in each game.Differences between these two example games are the issue of differentimplementations of “rule templates” from the bricks they are sharing, but arealso due to the use of rules which are not covered by the bricks: in order toobtain an efficient classification we could not make a brick for everyexisting rule template.We then had to limit the number of Game bricks, trying to identify the mostrecurrent rules templates, after a close study of the games in our corpus.However, the Game bricks are aimed to allow the representation of thediversity of challenges one can find among videogames.Besides the recurrent factor, we also took in account the nature of the rule:we have concentrated our efforts on representing the rules related to theactions of the player with the “Game Bricks,” meaning we focused on rulesrelated to the game goal and to the means of reaching it.Being inspired by the works of Koster  and Bura  who both try toelaborate a grammar of videogames in the shape of diagrams, we have formalizeddiagrams as definitions for our bricks (these diagrams are presented inSection 4.1).The structure of these templates is based on the “structure of a rule”: one orseveral “triggering conditions” (If) associated with one or several effects(Then).The “If…Then” structure of a rule obviously reminds one of the algorithmicscheme used in computer science, as studied in a previous article .
Nevertheless, the number of “total combinations” obtainable with thesedifferent bricks is still rather large, but we have noticed that some couplesof bricks were found very often in a great number of games.We named those couples of bricks “Metabricks” and after the study of gamesthat have one or two of these metabricks, we have given them names that arerather meaningful: MOVE and AVOID became the “DRIVER” metabrick, and theassociation of SHOOT and DESTROY became “KILLER.”These “metabricks” seem to us empirically related to the challenges proposedby these games.Families that have identical metabricks, but also some different bricks seemto present a variation on the same challenge. For example, the families of“Pac-man” and “Frogger” have a difference concerning the DESTROY brick: Pac-man has to swallow dots and thus to destroy them, while the frog has only abusy road to cross.To summarize, we have identified “Game Bricks” that represent “recurrent ruletemplates” within videogames. Based on these bricks, we have elaborated aclassification that gathers videogames into “families” having identicalcombinations of “Game bricks.”These families can then be classified through the use of some pairs of bricks,named “MetaBricks.”
3. Topology of a Game
In order to fully analyze the results of our quantitative study, we also havestudied the morphology of a videogame in a qualitative way.We started from the definition of a game according to Salen and Zimmerman :“An activity with some rules engaged in for an outcome.”The authors of “The Rules of Play” consider a game as an activity defined bytwo elements: the rules and the result, the latter one coming from a previousgoal.
3.1. “Some Rules”
If we consider that a videogame takes place in a virtual universe, we can alsoconsider that this universe is composed of several “elements,” in the broadestsense.For example, in soccer, a game that is playable both as a videogame and as asport, the universe would be composed of elements featured in a match:players, pitch, goals, and ball.All these elements are driven by the “rules” of the game, in a similar waythat elements from our own universe are driven by physical or behavioral laws.From a soccer point of view, these rules are the physical rules handling themovement of several elements, like the gravity applied on the ball and theplayers, but also the game rules specifying that only the goalkeeper isallowed to touch the ball with his hands.These rules seem to determine a “field of possible actions” that may happenwhen a soccer match is played. This is what Salen and Zimmerman call the“space of possibility” .
3.3. Different Kinds of Rules
If the target of the game is also a part of the game rules, does it means thatdifferent “kinds” of rules exists?The work of Gonzalo Frasca seems to indicate so, in particular his typology ofthe different kinds of game rules .(i)“Manipulation rules,” defining what the player can do in the game.(ii)“GoalRules,” defining the goal of the game.(iii)“Metarules,” defining how a gamecan be tuned or modified. For now, we will put aside “Metarules,” which meanthat on the whole of videogame rules, we will find some rules related to thedefinition of a goal, and other rules defining means to reach it.As different kinds of rules exist, and as “Game bricks” are based upon “ruletemplates,” we can ask the following question:On what kind of rules are the bricks based on?
4.1. Game + Play = Gameplay?
In order to find which kind of rules the bricks are based on, let us analyzethe definition diagrams of each brick.We notice that the bricks CREATE, DESTROY, RANDOM, MANAGE, MOVE, SHOOT,SELECT, and WRITE all feature a reference to the videogame’s Input within itstriggers.Please note that these bricks assume that the received inputs are “valid.”Hence these “player’s inputs” are previously checked by additional mechanismsthat are out of the scope of this article.On the other hand, the AVOID, BLOCK, DESTROY, and MATCH bricks all feature afeedback within its effects . (An important note about the use of the word“feedback” in this article: we are aware that within computer science, theterms “negative feedback” and “positive feedback” refer to systems with theability to automatically correct their actual state. However in the field ofgame design, “positive feedback” and “negative feedback” refer to thedifferent kinds of “rewards” a game can address to the player. We chose to usethe latter definition of these terms in this paper.) This feedback isdisplayed by the videogame’s Output.We could then divide bricks into two categories, according to whether theyfeature one or another of these characteristics.The first category of bricks seems to be based on a principle that one couldformulate in the following way: “to listen to Input and to consequently carryout modifications on game elements.”The second category would rather correspond to: “to observe the game elementsand to return an evaluation of the quality of modifications made by the firstrule category.”We retrieve here principles close to two types of rules evoked by Frasca: thefirst category approaches the definition of “Manipulation rules,” while thesecond one seems to be related to “Goal Rules.”But, from our point of view, the difference between these two categories ofbricks is also tied to the difference between the two words “Play” and “Game.”Indeed, as the bricks of the first category are related to Input, they can beconnected to the word “Play”; whereas the bricks of the second category, whichare related to the goal and so to the Output, would approach a concept relatedto the word “Game.”Following these observations, we can try to sort the bricks.The difference between the two bricks categories appears all the more clear bythe fact that they are not in direct relation between each other.Indeed, the two categories of bricks “interact” through the “game elements”:the “Play” bricks modify them, and the “Game” bricks observe the modificationsmade by the first ones.We could finally extend the “videogame structural diagram” (Figure 2) bydetailing the “Compute” part, where the rules are located.Unfortunately, the expression “Game brick” does not seem adequate anymore torefer to our full set of bricks, but only to the subset of bricks from thesecond category. We must then choose another term, which seems obvious here:we will now refer to the set of 10 identified bricks as “GamePlay bricks.”More than a simple name change, this word leads to an important question stilllooking for a precise answer. “What Is Gameplay?” Gameplay is empirically seen as a central element within a videogame, andseems closely related to the game quality in the mind of many players. If the question of its nature appears of capital importance, it isunfortunately a concept which remains to be precisely defined. Looking for a definition of gameplay, let us synthesize the points studieduntil now.We identified a set of recurrences within the rules of videogames, that wenamed “Gameplay bricks.” After analysis, we observe two types of bricks,related to two “kinds of videogame rules.”(i)Rules listening to Input and acting on the game elements consequently,named “Play bricks.”(ii)Rules observing the state of the game elements andreturning to the player an evaluation of his performance, named “Gamebricks.”May the association of “Play bricks” with “Game bricks” be the spiritof gameplay?A draft answer to this question may come from the two Metabricks presented inSection 2.2, namely, DRIVER and KILLER.If we analyze them, we notice that they are composed of a “Play brick”associated to a “Game brick.”We would say that if the “Game Brick” refers to a goal to reach, the “PlayBrick” seems to represent a means (or a constraint) in order to reach thisgoal.For example, DRIVER asks the player to avoid colliding with some elements, andallows the player to move its avatar in order to do so. In the same way,KILLER asks to destroy elements, through the use of projectiles that theplayer can shoot or throw.As these “Metabricks” represent pairs of “GamePlay bricks,” that is, rulestemplates, which are identified in a large group of games, our hypothesisabout the nature of gameplay seems very promising.
Tag is always fun and on a hot day, the addition of a sprinkler makes it evenmore so. In addition, it keeps everyone cool! Simply set up two gardensprinklers and you are ready to play. Divide the kids into two teams. Set asafe zone where players cannot be tagged and an out zone where tagged playersmust wait. The team with the most players left at the end of a set time wins.Variation: Play Freeze Tag as Sprinkler Tag
Board Game Tournament
Simply pull out all the board games, set up play areas, and have a tournamentwith winners playing with winners. Alternatively, number the players and haveall those with the same number play against each other and then mix thenumbers up so everyone gets to play the games with different people.Play board games. Drag out the Scrabble or the Yahtzee. You can hang out andplay all sorts of games with large groups or small ones. Hold a tournament andcompete against each other.
Group Storytime Game
Have all of your friends sit in a circle. Quickly write nouns down on slips ofpaper, one for each player, fold them up, and pass them out. Take turnsincorporating the word each person has into a story. Give each person oneminute for their part of the story. Some stories are really funny when toldthis way.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Have your friends find a partner and play Rock, Paper, Scissors. “Rock” is afist, “Paper” is a flat hand, and “Scissors” uses the pointer and middlefingers like scissors. Players make a fist and shake it three times thenchoose either rock, paper, or scissors. Rock breaks scissors, scissors cutpaper, and paper covers rock. Choose either three or five turns and whoeverwins the most turns gets the first turn in a game or wins the competition.
Video Game Tournament
If your friends do not like board games, set up a video game tournamentinstead. Or set up the electronic game player and bowl, dance, or play music,whatever you and your friends enjoy.
Playing One Through Six Jacks
Players take turns attempting to be the first to pick up one jack, then twojacks, then three, etc. The first player must pick up all six jacks, one at atime. This player continues with “twosies,” “threesies,” etc. until they havemanaged to pick up all of the jacks all the way through “sixsies.” Remember,if the player messes up, or moves or touches a jack they are not picking up,the next player gets to take a turn. When a player loses a turn, they muststart over. For example, if a player misses picking up five jacks at once,when their turn comes again, they must start on “fivesies” again. * Onesies. A player bounces the ball while picking up one jack, then transfers the jack to the other hand and continues picking up one at a time until all are picked up successfully. * Twosies. A player bounces the ball while picking up two jacks, transfers the jacks to the other hand, and repeats two more times until all six jacks are picked up. * Threesies. A player picks up three jacks at a time and transfers them to the other hand, still on one bounce for each three. * Foursies. A player picks up four jacks while bouncing a ball once, and then picks up the remaining two jacks with another bounce. * Fivesies. A player picks up five jacks, and then the remaining jack. * Sixsies. A player bounces the ball and picks up all six jacks at once.