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Strategy sounds too broad. I tend to look at them as types of math problems.

- odds calculation
- trajectory assessment
- packing problems
- scheduling problems
- graph theory problems

and then many types of games combine more than one, of course.

Simon Strange

I think Tetris is reasonably outside all three of those types.

The distinction you're drawing is really about information deficits. Type 1 (Strategy) is about analyzing known information to inform your next move. Type 2 (Obstacle Courses) is about quick reactions to unknown information. Type 3 (Gardening) is a game in which information isn't really important to progression.

I think to make a really compelling categorization, you should cross-reference these information types with something player-centric - amount of direct control, or the like.

Jonathan Leek

I've always categorized games by how much thought they required. Racing games and FPS tend to require very little thought on my part, while RTS and RPGs require more concentrated effort. I like this system, because it best reflects how I chose a game to play (am I looking for a challenge, or do I just want to veg out).

The interesting thing about this classification system is that all games tend to start in the "requires thought" category, and drift into the other the more I play them.

Marty Rabens

Where would twitch action games without obstacles to avoid fall in these categories? For example, shooting gallery games?

Account Deleted

I agree with Raph using elementary math models as "skeletons" for gameplay, with odds calculation and trajectory assessment. All the other discrete mathematics problems are rather equivalent and can be modeled as graphs problems, but depending on the context it would be easier to see them as scheduling, packing, etc. The first two are relatively "independent' in the sense that include uncertainty/probability (odds calculation) and some sort of dynamic, usually physical (trajectory assessment).

Strategy is to choose a subset of actions from all possible within the available from other root gameplay. Obstacle is usually within trajectories and gardening is scheduling. Tetris is packing. Shooting gallery games is packing: shot as many from a particular subset of all targets within a time.

I think a different root categorization should be made on "inputs", because different gameplay can have naturally adapted inputs but matching oddly paired input and gameplay can make things interesting.


Thanks all for the replies.

Raph, I think I'm looking for something simpler and more easily descriptive than that, a bit like when you were matching many of your ideas about social mechanics to real world activities. 'Strategy' is probably an ill-fit word in that context. Match (as in football match) is probably closer.



What is Tetris if not quick reactions to unknown information?

I don't think obstacle course necessarily implies quickness, or unknown information. What I'm aiming for more is a player-versus-system description. That system may well be fogged or fast, but equally it may not.

Laurent Goethals

A classification I like (by activity of the player)
- Construction
- Destruction
- Management
- Exploration
- Simulation
- Reflexion

Joseph Cooper

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the topic but I've been breaking it down into two and the distinction is blurry.

Basically a game presents a series of puzzles; you have a game state and try to understand it and take the best action. Considerations involve anything from "can I perform that combo?" to "who's where on the map?" or "what shape is coming next?" (Tetris I mean).

Then we have two ends on a continuum.

Adventure games and jigsaw puzzles present hand-crafted puzzles. A live human (or maybe a software) sat down and crafted a system state and you have to perform some actions to achieve a desired state.

On the other end, the state is very dynamic. Every action yields a new gamestate and there's any number of ways it can go.

Then we have another dimension where some entertainment products like Orbiter and the Sims have the whole simulationist approach and the end result is really more of a toy.

One can argue that it's not a "game" and the fact that there are many kinds of interactive entertainment products under the "video game" banner is a large part of why any attempt at defining things is elusive; like people upset that Pluto was not classified as a "planet" under the new spec, some people see it as more of a badge of honor than a useful tool for discussing serious business.

In any case, it's a blurred distinction in that dimension too since all (or at least most) simulations have ideal states, things you're trying to do, things you're trying to avoid, little wins, big wins, big experiences.

So to summarize, I see Simulations, Hand-crafted puzzles and Dynamic Games with blurred distinctions and a wide variety of actions from simple decisions to actions that warrant reflexes.

And underneath all of that is simply a loop of trying to achieve ideal states using your actions.

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