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Players Making Decisions: Game Design Essentials and the Art of Understanding Your Players by Zack Hiwiller

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15. Rules and Verbs

The young man knows the rules,but the old man knows the exceptions.

—OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES SR.

One school of thought takes rules to be the fundamental element of games. Thus, to explain a game, you need to examine the rules. For instance, if you used MDA (mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics) as your framework for understanding games, the only element that you can directly affect is the mechanics. The mechanics, in this case, are just rules of varying scope. But even if you choose to use some other framework to evaluate your game, you’ll likely need to examine the rules of the game as a fundamental element of the experience.

Rules

When you are introducing a game to a friend, say Hearts, how do you explain the game? Generally, ...

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