Rawlsian Game Design

Discussion of using Rawls in game design. Rawls on games at the end of the recap. Inspired by a talk with @jonasmaaloe at Exile Game Jam.

  1. Magic: the Gathering Rawlsian veil of ignorance draft format: draft as normal, all players randomly given a deck at each round of play.
  2. The Rawlsian draft really changes the draft building metagame, I imagine. Would love to play-test it sometime.
  3. Does this format already exist under a different name? I've been thinking about veil of ignorance game design as balancing mechanism.
  4. @ludist This is a very interesting question. I know there must be examples, but can't think of any right now. Let's make our own game?
  5. @ludist here's a paper on the reverse direction (framing the veil-of-justice concept in terms of game balance)  http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d05a/d0544.pdf /cd/d05a/d054…
  6. @mjntendency When you say game balance, do you mean game theoretically?
  7. @ludist doesn't "balance" in the mechanics sense usually mean game-theoretically, i.e. strategies don't dominate, etc.?
  8. @mjntendency Empirically, I'd say. Most actual games seem too complex to balance theoretically; emergent strats have to be impossible.
  9. @mjntendency I.E. how do you quantify good scouting or harass technique in an RTS?
  10. @ludist although "analytical game analysis can be useful" isn't quite the same as saying "it can answer all your questions" admittedly
  11. @mjntendency @ludist @doougle I'll playtest it in Magic... And I like the concept, but will you ever know the strategy in what you're delt?
  12. @pyjamads @mjntendency @doougle You get to look at yr deck before you play it, but playing it is kinda the contest.
  13. @ludist @mjntendency @doougle so the most versatile player wins I guess, but doesn't this format lead to a lot of ties between players
  14. @ludist @mjntendency @doougle I mean if decks a, b and c are built so the a < b < c.... Then everybody would end up with the same score...
  15. @ludist @mjntendency @doougle that makes sense for a one time thing, but I think players would just get annoyed with deck a, or player a....
  16. @pyjamads @mjntendency @doougle It's definitely not a perfectly agonistic game, and also not a fair one; in veil, perfect rationality
  17. @pyjamads @mjntendency @doougle but this is a veil that has to take certain things as chance beyond their control, and minimize that...
  18. @pyjamads @mjntendency @doougle ... by striving to make a deck that is neither too good or too bad, and trade in such a way...
  19. @pyjamads @mjntendency @doougle that all decks in the draft are viable, based on the info you get from what others draft from decks you see
  20. @pyjamads @mjntendency @doougle Having transparent drafting would bea great benefit to this, maybe even collusion among drafters
  21. @pyjamads @mjntendency @doougle Anyway, players get annoyed by getting their asses kicked all the time. The risk you take.
  22. Rawls on Games

  23. "Now many forms of life possess the characteristics of social union, shared final ends and common activities valued for themselves. [...] There is some advantage though in thinking about the simpler instances of games. Here we can easily distinguish four sorts of ends: the aim of the game as defined by its rules, say to score the most runs; the various motives of the players in playing the game; the excitement they get from it, the desire for exercise, and so on, which may be different for each person; the social purposes served by the game which may be unintended and unknown to the players, or even to anyone in the society, these being matters for the reflective observer to ascertain; and then finally, the shared end the common desire of all the players that there should be a good play of the game. This shared end can be realized only if the game is played fairly according to the rules, if the sides are more or less evenly matched, and if the players all sense that they are playing well."
    - John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, p. 525-526