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Big Game Theory - Article Index

Oliver Kiley
United States
Ann Arbor
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This post serves as a maintained index of articles here on Big Game Theory!, organized based on the predominant topic or tag of the post. Last updated June 23, 2021

Theoretical Rambling

Game Genomic Framework Series

A Beautiful Mess: Frameworks, Sandboxes, and Avant-Garde Designs (2019)
About framework games and other unorthodox design approaches

This Thing Called Strategy (2016)
Exploring the nature of choices and decisions in game design

A Genomic Framework for Game Analysis (2015)
Uber Framework for Game Design: Fundamental, Intrinsic, Dynamic, and Aesthetic Layers

The Player’s Point of View: Theme and Framing the Experience (2014)
Taxonomy of thematic function and purpose in game design

Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Boardgamery (2014)
Meta Frameworks for Game Design

Game Format: Competitive, Cooperative, and Semi-Quasi-Collaboration Games (2014)
Framework for determining "game format" (cooperative vs. competitive structures)

Conflict Soup for the Gamer’s Soul (2013)
Taxonomy for types of interaction in games

Searching the Depths: Strategy, Tactics, and the Deception of Complexity (2013)
Framework for understanding strategy, tactics, and decisions in game design

Modes of Thinking (2012)
Framework for player skill assessment in games

The Choices We Make (2012)
Framework for scoring system mechanics in game.

Towards a Science of Boardgames (Part I) (2012)
Framework for identifying essential traits and characteristics of games.

Genre Definition Series

Classification conundrums and ruminating on the "styles" of games (August 2020)

6 (or 7) Zones of Play & Design Implications (2019)

Shakedown: Tabletop Game Classification and the BGG Database (2019)

Crossing the Rubicon: Defining the 4X-Like Genre (2018) (Published at

Defined by Committee: Games and the Language Thereof (2014)

Schools of Design and Their Core Priorities (2014)

What makes a Euro a Euro? (2013)

Critical Inquest

State of Gaming Series

Board Games Make Better Strategy Games (2019)

Ubiquitous Violence (2016)

Prepare to be Assimilated: The Roguelike-ification of All Games (2015)

The Rise of Boardgame-Like Games and the Platform Paradox (2015)

On Game Obsessions, Disillusionments, and Finding Meaning (2015)

Culture Storms and the Evolving Medium of Games (2014)

Game Compulsion Disorder and the Call for Discipline Games (2013)

A Brief History of Hobby Boardgaming (WIP) (2013)
Geeklist for the history of hobby boardgaming

Digital Kills the Physical Star (2013)

My Journey into Haunting Ambivalence (2013)

Critiquing the 4X Genre Series

The Curious Case of 4X Games, Efficiency Engines, and Missing Strategic Gambits (2019)

All That Glitters Is Not Gold (2017) (Published at

The Inglorious State Of 4X Games (2018)

A Shattered Dream: Critiquing the 4X Genre (2015)

The Snowball and the Steamroller: Fundamental Challenges in 4X Game Design (2015)

The Gulf Between: Civ vs 4X Games (2014)

A Failure to End - Too much "What" and Not Enough "Why" (2013)

4X’ing the 4X’s (2012)

Methods of Criticism Series

A Designer’s Perspective on Audience Feedback (2013)

Critically Effective (2013)

Voice of Experience 2.0: Is Simple Beautiful? (2013)

Critical Collision Course: Kickstarter, Reviews, and Retorts of Course (2012)

An Armature for Critique (2012)

The Rise of the Cult of the Slow and Critical? (2012)

Data Mania

Keyforge: IMPACT Deck Analysis (2019)

Visualizing the BGG Game Database with Gephi. Whoa! (2018)

By the Numbers - BGG Rank Data + Analysis (2012)


2020 Big Game Theory Video Game Recommendations (December 2020)

Stellaris is Dead... To Me (2019)

Cardboard eXcursion: Raiders of the North Sea (2018) (Published at

4X Board Game Review: Runewars (2017) (Published at

Off the Shoulder of Orion - Sid Meier's Starships at First Blush (2015)

A Hellivator to Heaven: Adventures in Terraria (2015) - Terraria Review

The Stars My Destination – An Armada 2526 Retrospective (2014) - Armada 2526 Review

The Wondrous Ages I Have Known (2014)

15 Years and Worlds Apart - Autumn Dynasty: Warlords & The King of Dragon Pass (2014)

Of Finding Civilization in a Barn (2013)

For the Love of the Decktet (2013)

A Budding Infatuation with Game Systems (2013)

UltraCorps - The Boardgame That Isn't (2012)


Game Collection Series

The Waxing & Waning of My Gaming Obsessions (September 2020)

20 steps to becoming a weird game fan (September 2020)

Self-Deception & My Game Collection (2018)

I’ve got my eye(s) on you! (2013)

My Collection After the End-of-the-World Didn’t Happen (2013)

Collection Conjunction - What’s your Recollection? (2012)

What I'm Playing Series

2021 Summer Board Game Smorgasbord Spectacular (June 2021)

Springtime Status Report: Games, Behaviors, and Pandemics (2020)

Smorgasbord: Summer '19 Report (2019)

2017 Smorgasbord Part 1: New Stuff Played (2017)

Smorgasbord: Good Things in Small Packages (2016)

Smorgasboard 2015-16: What's Going On Edition (2016)

What's Going On!? The Game of Too Many Excuses (2015)

What's Going On!? Roguelikes and Like Other Stuff (2015)

The Not-So-Quarterly Report (2015)

2014 Synopsis and Highlight Reel (2015)

Crossing the Digital Veil (2014)

A View from My Lerkim (2013)

My Dear Dossier - Part I (2011)

About, about, in reel and rout (2011)

Miscellaneous Reflections

When reality is politicized, everything is political (January 2021)

The Looming Disaster of Current School Re-Opening Plans and Finding Better Ways Forward (July 2020)

Black Lives Matter, and they must matter to all of us (June 2020)

Warning, Chaotic Thought Storms Ahead: Wingspan, Awards, and Preference Reflections (June 2020)

Shakedown: Tabletop Game Classification and the BGG Database (2019)

A Circle of Madness Broken by Empathy (2017)

Reflecting on Depictions of the Great War (2016)

These Halls I Walked: An Homage to Doom and Quake (2015)

My Life Through Microbadges (Part 1) (2015)

Fall-time Spectacular: The State of the Blog! (2014)

Big Game Theory! Expands into a New Universe (2014)

A BGG Love Story (2013)

BGG Digital Game Nights (2013)

BGG ... My Social Media Gateway Drug (2012)

Design Skunkworks (My Projects)

Game Design & Roundup Series

Rhine & Rhone: An express version of T&E (or Y&Y) (2018)

Lobotomy Lab: Shipwrights of the North Sea (2017)

All Roads Lead to Amber (2014)

Skunkworks Update 2012 – Never too Late to the Party! (2012)

On the boards ... or ... A Skunkwork Orange (2011)

Don't Drown in Your Files! (2011)

A Light Transcendent Design Series

Delusions of Grandeur (Part 2) (2016)

Delusions of Grandeur (Part 1) (2015)

Emissary Design Series

Emissary: Red Frontier Graphic Design (2018)

Rethinking Emissary for the "Red Frontier" (2018)

Emissary's Thematic Conundrums (2014)

A Call to Arms! (2014)

Emissary: A Study in Brain-burn and Emergence (2013)

Warhammer 40,000 & Tabletop Miniature Games

Chaos and Control: Balancing Strategy and Narrative in Game Design (February 2021)

Building a Better Warhammer 40,000 with ProHammer (October 2020)

Hegemonic Design Series

Breaking the Shrink (2013)

Hegemonic - A Pictorial History (2013)

The Hegemony of Kickstarter! (2012)

Hegemonic on Course for Publication! (2012)

How to Takeover the Galaxy - Hegemonic Style! (2011)
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