We are about to embark on the journey we have been putting off. We are going to spend the next few weekends putting rules together for the games we have completed the design. I have been reading up on what makes good rules and looking at good and bad rule books to give myself some bearings. Along the way, I’ve had a few thoughts. One of those thoughts is…Your rules are part of your sales team.
Let me explain.
The ease with which your rules can be consumed by player A, means that player B, C and D will have a better first experience with your game. Lets assume that player A is a regular at game night and player C is relatively new to game nights. Player C had a great time playing your game, awesome. Player A was able to clearly explain to a new-ish gamer how the game was played and everyone had a good time. Player C enjoyed the game so much they want to show the game to their friends or family. Lets say a major holiday is around the corner and family will be getting together. Player C goes to their FLGS and they pick up your game, double awesome. It may have been several weeks since Player C played your game but they know they liked it and they want to show it off.
Here is where we can go down two very different roads:
Was Player A able to decipher your rules because they are experienced with rule books and have the ability to fill in the gaps? Can player C fill in the same gaps? Will the family members of player C get the same experience?
Was Player A able to explain the game clearly, find reference material easily and provide the intended experience without having to put any extra work into learning the game or using any preexisting knowledge? Is your rule book accessible to players of any skill level?
I don’t want to oversimplify what a rule book is, how it is written or ignore the unknowable variable of who is teaching your game. The only thing I want to accomplish with this post is to plant the idea with you that rule books are an extension of your sales team. Rule books are there when people are most open to playing your game. Rule books are there when people have a quick reference question because they haven’t played your game in a little while. As designers and gamers, we all know the importance of a rule book, but I think rule books are MORE than a booklet of instructions and reference material. I am not sure if that would change the way you approach your rule books, but it is something I will keep in mind over the next month or so while we work on the rule books to our various games.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.