May 3, 2021

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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