A Growing Gamer Lexicon

For the first half of my gaming enjoyment, I didn’t have terms to describe aspects of game design. Dials, valves, nodes, and comparative form were all foreign to me and it would be years into my career in gaming before I even started to hear them used by other game designers.

This industry is notorious for not having a shared-language of design terminology. In fact, a few game design books have been written about this, even going so far as to express the amount of resistance the people in the industry put up against the creation of a formative lexicon. That notwithstanding, some gamers and designers are doing just that, making a lexicon (for this ephemeral pen and paper side anyway).

In my attempt to be part of the process I’ve created two of my own, that sadly only express social phenomenon in the gaming industry, not actual design. But, it’s a start.

Reliant Focus Play. Games that are designed to be gamemaster dependent also breed conditioning that leads to players becoming reliant upon that play focus. Reliant Focus Play describes the style of game where the players expect the gamemaster to interpret every action, die roll, and interaction in the game. Essentially, the voiced authority of play rests with the gamemaster AND the players do not or cannot play any other way.

Reverse Optimization Engineering. While this term was inspired by the MMO crowd, its definition extends beyond the virtual game world. ROE describes the gameplay perspective that the game is about breaking down and optimizing every mathematical aspect of play to the extent that without this focus, there is no fun. This subset of player draws their enjoyment of play from actually not playing at all, but the reverse mapping of the game math architecture. It is, for lack of a better word, puzzle-solving and not gaming (in their truest definitions).

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