Chris Strain wrote one of my favorite pieces on the League, called Teaching a Game. I’ve referred to it several times, because I believe it is an art to bring someone into a game experience in the right way, with the correct order of information, at the pace the learner should get that information.
I think that the latest trend in Legacy games, interactive storytelling, chapter campaigns and similar experiences are all clever ways at parsing the complexities of a game, and serving to the audience in the right bite sized amounts. Just like a game master does, just like anyone who wants to have a game night actually happen must do for their patience-challenged friends, ready to just play something NOW!
Why spare someone from the rulebook? Because rulebooks suck. My latest rounds of blind testing have convinced me of this anew. They are full of FAQs and Fiddliness, as Tom Jolly explains. Writing rules is hard, as Seth Jaffee pointed out and Randy Hoyt confirmed in his article on watching people use your rulebook.
So why do I bring up both Chris’s article on teaching and our tendency to cringe at rulebook reading? Because largely as designers, we do the best we can to explain our idea, and craft the ULTIMATE book that we hope gives someone all the tools they need to play our creation. We hope sincerely, that the game box is opened in someone’s living room for an imminent game night and that it’s clear, that it is as fun as promised, and as easy to understand as possible. Rarely do we have a chance to redo this task, but Chris recently had the chance to revisit one of his rulebooks, for his game Asking for Trobils.
As I looked over the new rulebook, something interesting struck me. Something I haven’t seen before in a game rulebook. An entire page was added – dedicated to “How to teach this game!”
It’s a quick start guide – not to the game, but to explain the game. So if I love this game, my job is now easier than ever to spread it everywhere.
Kudos, Chris – that rocks. You’ve taken teaching games to another level.
Here’s Chris’s original article on the league, Teaching a Game. Hope you enjoy it anew!
The Asking for Trobils Reprint is coming soon from Breaking Games!