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March 12, 2010


Space Toast

That was worth quoting in its entirety. Thanks, Alice.

Here's my question. Power gamers always beat the game the same way: by figuring out the engine, not by mastering the role presented by the scenario. How does a designer use psychology to thwart the ultra-reductionist gamer? How do you reward taking the scenario presented and just going with it?

Goth Hick

Heya Alice,

A million thanks for your notes, these are great to read. I've got to come back and pay closer attention but stumbled on a small typo (pp. 11, 'diving' should be 'giving'). Apologies for having such poor taste to pick a nit with such a great article to share.


Hahah no probs - fixed it. Thanks for spotting!



@Space Toast
Isn't that true of all gamers, though? Players figure out the mechanics of a game, and what it allows them to do. One can only "master the role" in the channels that the game system allows them to play through. Power gamers tend to go for the 'one optimum strategy' through the game, ignoring everything else. Other players might be more interested in exploring: whether it's the world and/or narrative, or character and play style permutations. Some games may favor a power-gamer approach, however, by focusing on simple advancement through the game (in which case *all* players are power-gamers, some are just better at it than others), or not providing other avenues in the game to explore (in which case, non-power-gamers are likely to get bored).
As a designer, I'm aware of several ways to counteract reductionist play - making game systems with sufficiently complex mechanics that there is more than one way to advance through the game, and making a game that offers more pleasures than simply advancing through it as quickly as possible.
Ultimately though, power-gaming is a style of play that you have to manage (assuming the game is of a type that would appeal to power-gamers); you provide some rewards for those players, but in a multiplayer game at least, you have to carefully set up the mechanics of the game such that it limits how "uber" power-games can become, in order to make sure they don't unbalance play for everyone else.

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