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

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16. Balance

The system of nature, of which man is a part,tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing.Not so with technology.

—E. F. SCHUMACHER

Is Chess a balanced game?

That question is impossible to answer if you do not understand what balance means in this context. The concept of balance is a highly “squishy” one—one prone to hand waving instead of definition. A person can mean many things by “balance.” One definition is that players have an even chance to win, all else being equal. However, balance can be tricky. If all players have an equal chance to win, does that speak to the game’s mechanisms or the player’s abilities? What reason does a player ever have to get better at a game if the game’s balance always gives him the ...

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