On Sun, 16 Oct 2016, Owen Jacobson wrote:
> I very much appreciate that Agora has no “end” baked into it -
> I think Suber’s original ruleset embeds assumptions about games
> that were appropriate in the 80s, before the modern indie game
> scene started exploring goals besides “winning” for game play.
Hey, my story is relevant then!
My first Nomic game was Suber face-to-face version in 1991 or so, with
my college's boardgames club (a dog-eared copy of Metamagical Themas was
doing the rounds in the dorm, so we pasted the rules on index cards and
made a set).
Within a 1/2 hour of play, someone made a poorly-worded rule for points
scoring, and the very next player managed to "achieve 100 points" thus
becoming the winner.
Instantly, someone called judgement on whether that meant the game was
over. The chosen judge wanted to keep playing, so said "nope! nothing
says the game's over when there's a winner." The "winner" thought it
was pretty ridiculous and grumped that you didn't have to actually say
that in the rules for a game to be over, but we played a few more hours
and a couple more winners, I think ending by passing a "it's 4am, game's
Played a few more games of in-person Suber rules, and what's interesting
is, if you're willing to question everything, there's so unwritten
assumptions. For example, voting. Do you vote going around the table?
Simultaneously by writing ballots? In one game, we said, "hey, for
convenience, let's put white or black Go stones in a container" and of
course the game became about earning stones for extra votes. At least in
the games I played, these initial meta-decisions and assumptions had
(almost) more effect than the rules themselves.
The rest of my story is, about that time there was an announcement in
rec.games.board about a nomic MUD opening up (see Rule 1727) - I was
playing around with MUD programming at the time, so it seemed perfect,
and that eventually turned into this, though I missed the first 8 of
those post-MUD years.
One of the things I've come to appreciate in Agora is different modes
of thinking; in particular, all my previous Nomic experiences were with
mathematicians/computer programmers who tended to treat the rules like
algorithms - Agora was balanced (in different amounts) between that
sort of thinking and "lawyer" approaches to rules, which are very very
different, and it's always fun to see the two schools of thought meet.