May 3, 2021 invective theory

Mechanisms as Abstraction

Mechanisms abstract the thing they describe or simulate.
This can be done to speed up play, or to make something complex more easily grasped.

  • The number of factors that go into a fight are too many to simulate or describe - so we abstract.
  • Buying many individual items takes time which isn’t always going to be fun - so we abstract.

Abstraction requires the loss of detail.

The things you don’t abstract are the meat of the game.
This is why games* aren’t about what their mechanisms are about - or, if you insist, don’t have to be. Leaving the gap for something to be approached in more detail and nuance gives that thing more primacy.

*In truth, this is talking about game books - the game, the thing that happens up to the table, is an entirely different thing which encapsulates and supersedes the book.

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