Friday, April 14, 2006

Ludemes - more atomism in game design

In A Theory of Fun, Raph Koster presents the term Ludemes: "the atoms of games, so to speak (...) Game designer Ben Cousins call these 'ludemes', the basic units of gameplay". There you go - another atomist take on game design. I still couldn't find Cousin's original material (if there is any, that is), but found a very interesting presentation from 2005 by Koster: A Grammar of Gameplay - Game Atoms: Can Games be Diagrammed?

To see more atomist approaches on game design, read this and this previous posts.


ChrisBateman said...

Although I'm happy for game design to be examined from as many different angles as possible, I am somewhat sceptical of the value of purely reductionist approaches. After all, what is it that we're interested in: the components of the software or the experience of the players?

In natural science, the value of reductionism (until recently, at least) was that it exposed lower level components that were previously unknown. But in games, these lower level components are not actually unknown - they were programmed in, or designed in (although there is perhaps an argument that there are 'emergent' elements - but is reductionism really the best doctrine to uncover these?)

However, the flipside to all this is that you can't have too many models, or streams of information. Or to put it another way, reductionism shows up things that holistic approaches will not. It's just important, in my opinion, to remember that reductionism can only ever give a highly fragmentary picture. Although the mythology of science states that chemistry is derivable from physics, and biology from chemistry, and psychology from chemistry (and so on), in point of fact this myth is neither proven nor widely accepted.

That aside, Ben's work is interesting because it collates trends across different games, which is ironically not a particularly reductionistic approach. :) It's applied parametrics, and we don't have anywhere near enough discussion on parametrics currently.

Anyway, just my idle thoughts. :) Take care!

chico queiroz said...

Hello Chris, thanks for contributing!

While I agree that purely isolating game "atoms" might not necessarily be the way to better, more sophisticated or original design, I believe the construction of a kind of catalogue or a lexicon (I have "Patterns in Game Design" in mind while I write this) could give designers inspiration and examples of things that could or could not work within their projects.

Besides that, I think it could work well as a tool for the analysis of games and the elaboration game design docs - although I think it could work better if combined to a system as your Game Design Grammar (if something like that would be possible).

As I said, I couldn't find the original work of Ben Cousins - which you seem to be familiar with. If you know where I can find something about it, please, let me know.

Again, thanks for writing!


Eivind Hagerup said...

Interesting, thanks for the links!

Did you ever find Cousins' original work?

SaintXi said...

Ben's articles are linked in here:

Copyright, Chico Queiroz