Mechanics are More Important than Theme
This is a list of great games that have solid, interesting, immersive gameplay, and/or allow for dynamic and exciting interactions between players, even though the theme of the game is shallow, optional, or even non-existent. Feel free to add to this list. The list is sorted by average rating.Recommend
Some say theme might get them to try a game, but mechanics will be what keeps them coming back.
I recently posted a piece on the League of Gamemakers website entitled
Mechanics are More Important than Theme: http://bit.ly/1kGC4IZ
When talking non-RPG tabletop games, mechanics make the game. Mechanics ARE the game. Themes and components can enhance games and create more immersive experiences, but the core of a game is ultimately the mechanics. If you are a designer, that’s where you should channel the vast majority of your creative energy. In situations where you must choose between preserving your theme and using the most solid, fun mechanics, go with the mechanics.
My Nemesis, and fellow member of the League of Gamemakers, Peter Vaughan has posted an opposing Geeklist: Theme is More Important than Mechanics. He's also posting an opposing blog soon.
Of course thematic games are popular, and can be big sellers - but often the themes they use aren't even designed by the designers themselves - Star Wars, Cthulu, generic science fiction, generic fantasy, etc. I would further argue that the 'feel' of thematic games also originates primarily from the implementation of the game mechanics. When done poorly, there's no theme at all. When done well, the theme comes alive.
- [+] Dice rolls