I think most people are familiar with the idea of questions.
“What questions does your game make” and such.
Well, I was thinking about how games have themes and these themes prompt questions that we ask the game, the players, the systems etc.
But I began thinking about statements today, and here’s my grand theory:
The game systems make statements. If you can figure out which statements you make, it can help you design your game mechanics.
Look, I’m a new designer, so don’t take my word for anything and don’t bash me either haha
I’ll use my own game as an example. I got some incredible playtest reports from @Deodatus recently and it sent my mind spinning. Here’s what I am thinking:
Maybe all game systems make some sort of “I AM” statement. Well, The Quiet Year seems to make a kind of “I Represent/We Represent” type statement. I don’t know.
In fantasypunk, characters have traits (basic stats): Kind, Brave, Curious, Precise and Insightful.
I am Kind. I am Brave. Etc…
Cool, I think I have a very solid concept of how the characters explore the world.
Apocalypse world does “I am Hot/Cool/Weird, etc” Which also says loads about the game upfront.
I think this is a very strong statement which probably all game systems make in a way or another.
I find it’s important to establish a definition: I CAN statement seem to require a trigger, condition, or another factor to work. I figure this definition implies the existence of “I Do”. I might get to that possibility later.
In most PbtA games, I CAN are essentially the moves.
Thing is, I CAN prompt questions that define it: how, when, where, etc.
So I’d say that the basic statements for moves would be: "I CAN [make this move] when the conditions are met.
I can Do Battle when I want to engage someone through violence.
I think you should be able to form different questions with I can, and I think the answers can be mechanics, themes, objectives and thematic, setting specific things.
I can Make Moves.
I can Die.
I can Win.
I can Lose.
I can change the world with magic.
I can connect with other people’s hearts.
I can make telepathic connections.
I can sense undead.
I can heal with a touch.
I can dole out violence at will.
I’d say if you get a few of these sentences you might get a solid idea of what things your game plugs at.
I am excited to think about what other statements we can make to get to our game mechanics.
I have: does it imply an equipment system?
I have gear that helps me traverse dungeons.
Oh, I like that.
I must win the heart of my beloved.
I must protect the Princess.
I think that different statements will prompt different questions and you must always answer them honestly to pin down the systems you want to include in your game.
Here’s where I think the magic is made.
I am Kind. I can connect with the hearts of others with a look. I have regrets and dreams.
Now you can turn these into mechanics by structuring statements and making new statements as you go to help you get there.
Thoughts? Ideas? I’d love to learn what others think!
some extra edits
I learned - Maybe a system of “saves”, lessons or advancement.
“I learned how to avoid traps”
I know - Knowledge or abilities that bypass or make it easier to make rolls
“I know how to cook”
I’d say that asking questions here can be a way to determine when checks are in order:
“Do you know how to cook a fancy dessert?”
I do - this can be as broad or as narrow as the context allows but…
I work as a salesman
I make cakes
I wield two weapons
I think what will make a difference here are other words such as usually, always, sometimes, never and so on.
I always arrive on time
I never fail to impress
I usually get what I want
Not sure where I can go with these but there they are.