Using Game Design As A Writing Tool

By Mike Haran
Aug. 25, 2011

A part of writing over looked by most is the design and playing of historical games. Most people do their research by reading what someone else has written. This makes the reader subject to the writer’s interpretation of the facts presented. I have over the years dabbled in playing war games and the like. I find it a good way to learn history, better in fact than reading an account in a history book as the main factors are recreated over and over as the game is played. I went from there to game design in order to recreate scenarios I was interested in. I found that the act of designing games forced me to organize my writing as without clear definitions the design process soon fell apart. This is a good drill for writers as the initial organizing of a project is done automatically. Let me clarify myself. Say I am designing a game in order to predict future Middle East conflict. I first have to make a list of the antagonists. In this case they are not countries but conventional organizations within a recognized country forming alliances with similar countries. The antagonists are terror organizations forming loose alliances with other terrorist organizations.

In order to portray this I could list every unit and then play one against the other, however I haven't as the game would be too complicated .Instead I have used a single counter to indicate any sized force of a certain unit and type played against an enemy force represented by one two three or more units. The conventional force is subject to surprise attacks as he moves into other countries or areas. As this will take a long time to explain I will let the reader figure things out by referring to a simple solo game. One can take things a step further and use the game design as a marketing tool.

Game marketing can be very complicated or very simple. For the average Joe marketing a game is simply out of his reach in the much the same way as would be producing a movie; in fact some games take more capital to produce than a movie. However not to despair, for every complicated way of doing things there is a simpler way. Desk top publishing programs make it possible to sell and deliver your product directly over the internet. Map counters and rules are put in a PDF format and then sent to the ultimate customer with a simple click on the mouse. One of the advantages of this system over store bought games is that the customer can change the size of the counters and map by changing the magnification on his browser before printing the product out.

Counters are affixed to stalk board and then cut with scissors .The map need not be mounted as the small size will usually make this step redundant. Alternately the end user can print his stuff out on to thin card.

Alternately plastic pieces available on the internet for pennies can be substituted for counters as indeed is the case with a lot of professional DTP products.

Whatever system is used the key is a good set of rules specifically written for DTP games? On the below site is an example of the rules for a game set somewhere in the future Middle East based upon present day projections. A modest licensing fee will secure the producer rights to market his product with no legal hassles.

A Spreading Insurgency


About the author: Here is the link to my new web site devoid of any connection with the above which I use as a device to publish my war games,link

Read Mike Haran's essays on history at http://www.geocities.com/manzikertca/

Email: manzikertca@yahoo.com

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