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  • The Nine Structural Subsystems of Any Game

    [03.17.09]
    - Lewis Pulsipher

  •  What about a non-conflict game? Say, Tetris.

    1. Theme/History/Story/Emotion/Image.  None.

    2. Player Interaction rules (and number of players).  One player vs. the computer, which probably administers things purely at random-it is not a conflicting interest.

    3. Objective/victory conditions.  The objective is to score points by making rows of blocks; but the game has no ending other than ultimate failure of the player's efforts.

    4. "Data storage". (Information Management).  The square-grid "board" and the computer.

    5. Sequencing.  Simultaneous.

    6. Movement/Placement.  The computer generates pieces, you can rotate them.

    7. Information availability.  You can see what's on the board, and the type of piece that will fall next.

    8. Conflict resolution/interaction of game entities.  This is as close as we come to the rules for where blocks fall and when they disappear.

    9. "Economy" (resource acquisition).  The pieces keep coming.

    Let's try a sports video game, say Madden (or just about any other football simulation).

    1. Theme/History/Story/Emotion/Image.  Simulates real-world football.

    2. Player Interaction rules (and number of players).  The player vs. the computer, ordinarily.

    3. Objective/victory conditions.   The same conditions as real football; even in games involving a campaign (entire season), the objective is to win a championship, just as in the real world.

    4. "Data storage". (Information Management) The computer, the virtual football field.

    5. Sequencing.  Simultaneous with periods of thinking in between, just as in the real thing.

    6. Movement/Placement. 11 "pieces" on a side, running, passing, causing collisions.

    7. Information availability.  Largely available, but similar to the real world.

    8. Conflict resolution/interaction of game entities.  Complex rules for collisions including blocking and tackling, rules for possession and movement (and loss of) the ball.

    9. "Economy" (resource acquisition).   Trades, drafts, and other ways of acquiring new "pieces"; injuries.

    Finally, let's try a game that may not fit, because it uses the human body only -- Rock, Paper, Scissors:

    1. Theme/History/Story/Emotion/Image.  None.

    2. Player Interaction rules (and number of players).  One player vs. another.

    3. Objective/victory conditions.  The circular superiorities rule determines a winner.

    4. "Data storage". (Information Management).  If there is any, it's the human brain, and only insofar as, if you play best two out of three, something must keep track of the score.

    5. Sequencing.  Simultaneous.

    6. Movement/Placement.  No pieces, nothing, really, other than your hands.

    7. Information availability.  Only what you can glean from your reading of your opponent.

    8. Conflict resolution/interaction of game entities.  Here we have the paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper.

    9. "Economy" (resource acquisition).  No new resources, but anyone with a hand can play.

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