Breaking the Rules

Defining Rules
3 rule levels
Complexity and Emergence in Games
Information theory in Games
Games as Information Systems
Games as Cybernetic Systems
Games as Game Theory Systems
Games as Systems of Conflict
Breaking the Rules
(Ch. 21)
Prof. Hector Munoz-Avila
• Goldstein suggests two kinds of rules: ideal
versus actual rules of play
– Examples:
“no attack for 10-minutes” rule in an RTS
• DeKoven: to win, players may violate rules
• We now examine: how and why players cheat or
“bend the rules”
Categories of Player versus Dimensions
• Dimensions
– Adherence to the rules
– Interest in winning
– Degree of lusory attitude
• Types of player
Standard player
Dedicated player
Unsportmanslike player
• Cheating to win its obvious,
but examples of cheating for
“fun” in the game?
• What about having fun at
the expense of possibly
Standard Players
• Follow the rules of the game (explicit and
• Has a lusory attitude
• He/she tries to win the game
• Typically game designer is thinking about this
kind of players as their target population
• Book asserts that the majority of players are in
this class
Dedicated Players
Master rules
High-level of lusory attitude
Winning is very important
Standard players might not find enjoyable
level of commitment to play the game that
dedicated players exhibit
Unsportmanlike Players
• Tries to exploit the rules
– Even violate implicit rules
– Follow operational rules but in a way that violate intend of
the rules
– Example
• Lusory attitude
– High as long as it serves to win the game
– Low if it serves to win the game
• Winning is very important
• Try to find “Degenerate Strategies”
Degenerate Strategies
• Exploits due to loopholes in the rules
– Or bad implementation of the rules (e.g., in digital
– Example
• May result (“emergence”) as a result of complex
system (Games as complex systems)
• May be a saddle points in space of possible game
states (Games as Game Theory systems)
– Sometimes it is needed because of game design (flaw)
• Breaks operational rules
• But trying not to be caught
• Because he/she still wants to win the game
– So it does not destroy the game (unless caught)
– Example
Denies the operational rules
Doesn’t really care about winning
No lusory attitude
Considered more destructive/disruptive than
even the cheater
• Look at this
Some Games are Build around RuleBreaking
• Some team sports
• Tactical fouls
– Strategic decision to break the rules of the game
• Rule-breaking is part of the game
Digital Rule-Breaking
Easter Eggs (Goro)
Cheat codes
Work around
True cheating: hacks
Spoil-sport hacks
Game design rule-breaking:
– test limits of system
– Change rules of game and see what happens
Virtual Economies
Original topic by:
Scott Woodward
Chris Addy
Adjusted by: Prof. Hector Munoz-Avila
Currency as Meaningful Play Element
• We observed in previous lectures that in-game currency is an
integrated element of game design
• “integrated” as in meaningful play:
– Currency allows players to get in game items for their
– They can these items from other players or from NPCs
– These items can be used to progress in the game towards
its final objective
• E.g., defeat BMM (Big Mean Monster)
• Economy refers to the human activities
related with the production, distribution,
exchange, and consumption of goods and
• A virtual economy is an economy existing in a
virtual persistent world, usually in the context
of a game
Virtual Economies
• Consist of 5 parts
– Persistence
– Scarcity
– Specialization
– Trade
– Property Rights
• The gaming system keeps track of
– State of the world
– Resources
– Possessions
• The gaming system maintains these
possessions permanently
• More needs than available resources
• Users must expend resources
– Time
– Real money
– Virtual money and resources
• To obtain goods, resources, or services
(another) in the virtual environment
• Availability to players must vary
– Limit players ability to obtain resources based
either upon skills, class, or other factors
– This creates conflict in the environment for
available resources
– Other forms of obtaining resources?
• Users must be able to transfer goods and services
to and from other users
– Virtual objects only have meaning in context of the
– Worthless if unable to trade goods between players
and the environment
• Trade modalities:
– Direct player versus player
– Player versus NPC (NPC sellers)
– Indirect player versus player: Auction House
Auction House
Auction House
• Players can buy/sell their goods
• Operates in the same way than “real” market:
– Inflation
– The rarity of a good influences its price
• Can be strongly influenced by the “government” (i.e., the
game developer):
– Example of designer decision affecting the value of goods?
– Example of the “real” government affecting the value of goods?
Property Rights
• The game must record which goods and
services belong to which user’s avatar
– The user may dispose of the goods or services at
any time via destruction, exchange or use.
– Property not limited to individual users
• Guilds might also have property
• An EVE Online story
Games’ Genres
and Their Economies
– Strategy (RTS, TBS)
– Board Games (Monopoly etc)
• inflation
Meaningful Play & Lusory Attitude
• Integrated outcome
– By interacting with the economy you obtain
resources that will further your own goals further
down the road
• Player is willing to spend significant amounts
of time or even real money to get those neat
Lusory Attitude
• Player is willing to spend significant amounts
of time or even real money to get those neat
Virtual Economies in the News
• Online vendors sell currency, services or items in
many online games
– World of Warcraft
– Everquest I & II
• Arguably, Norrath was 77th economy in the world in 2005
– Second Life
• EBay bans the selling of virtual goods and
• Virtual Taxation (separate from developers own
– Becomes a game in itself – developers’ concerns

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