Erik Capps
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Hey everyone!

Susan and I were working on an article for Rulebook Review after we made a suggestion for a particular rulebook we were asked to do an edit on. This game used something other then "player" when describing those who were playing.

For example, let's pretend it was a horse racing game. The players were called "Racers" instead of "Players".

We suggested they change it back to players as many people I know have said they prefer that in rulebooks, but I realized that maybe the larger world on BGG might think differently, so I thought I'd ask!

Poll
Should rulebooks only use the term "Player" when describing the people playing their game?
Yes
No
It Depends On The Game
      126 answers
Poll created by Capps


I'd love to get any of your thoughts on this as well. The most insightful thoughts I'll quote in the article and will get a geekgold tip as well!

So BGG, what do you think?
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Shelby Buttimer
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
I understand that game designers really want to get people immersed in the theme of their games, but I really don't think using anything other than "player" is a good idea. For one thing, it can be confusing. It's important to distinguish between the player, characters they control, and any non-playable characters. This distinction may not be as critical if the player already knows how to play the game, but to a newcomer, referring to the player as "The Elf Lord" can be very confusing. Who's the Elf Lord? What is he supposed to be doing? Do I have to do anything?

For another thing, the player is generally not immersed in the game while reading the rule book. At that point, they're simply figuring out how to play. Don't make that harder. If the theme is so weak that the designer really feels the need to refer to the player as "The Elf Lord" to make it stronger, the theme needs some reworking.

My two cents.
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Grant Stewart
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
Capps wrote:
For example, let's pretend it was a horse racing game. The players were called "Racers" instead of "Players".


This is a perfect example for me. Mention that the players will be refereed to by the term for the rest of the rule book and that would cover it.
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Sean Ahern
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
I think you go with "player" unless that would lead to confusion. However, the only case I can think of where that was necessary is Blood Bowl. The rules call the player "Coaches" instead of players because the pieces who are moved around the board are referred to as players.
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J M
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
I think that for the purpose of clarity, players should only ever be referred to as "players" in the rule book. It helps to differentiate the player from the pawn/minifig/token(s) on the board representing them, which might be referred to as "racers", "jockeys" or "horses".
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Jeff
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
I think it is unnecessary and confusing.

If you absolutely have to call players something else, I suggest "actioneers." I made that word up, but it's yours to use. You're welcome.
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Daniel Fish
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
I don't think there's anything wrong with using a different word, so long as it is introduced clearly at the outset as the term referring to players and used consistently. Also there isn't much point unless it is thematic or used to clarify human "players" from some game piece called a "player."

The dominating principle is clarity of instruction, however. If the instructions are generally poorly written and unclear, then it doesn't matter what the terms are, readers will struggle. If the instructions are crystal clear and well written, on the other hand, then using an alternate term for players will not cause confusion and may add theme. If there is any doubt, then strive for simplicity and use the term "players."
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Edward Uhler
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
Bottom line:

K.I.S.S.

Don't overthink it.
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Richard B
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
For what it's worth in this context I don't see the difference between "no" and "it depends on the game."

I personally voted "no" because I like when rules integrate theme and this is one way help achieve that end. You can, of course, still do that while referring to "players" (see Galaxy Trucker). Certainly not a requirement for me either way though.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
Quote:
Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?


I don't care what you refer to them as, but I would prefer you change 'then' to 'than' in the thread title.
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M M
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Re: Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?
There is no reason to get cute. It is good to create defined terms and use them consistently. But you don't need to do that for commonly understood terms. All they do is create a buffer to understanding and get in the way.

Flavor text is for immersion. Rules are for clarity.
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Magic Pink
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Normally I would say Yes but I have to leave the option open depending on the game; some game would possibly use a new term incredibly well. So I said depending on the game.
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Erik Capps
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Thunkd wrote:
Quote:
Using Something Other Then "Player" In Rulebooks. Your Thoughts?


I don't care what you refer to them as, but I would prefer you change 'then' to 'than' in the thread title.


What are you talking about? It IS than in the title! whistle

I spend so much time proofreading things other people write and forget to check my own. Don't judge me!
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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Capps wrote:
What are you talking about? It IS than in the title!
Nice try It might have worked except BGG references the original thread title above posts when the original title has changed.
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Brian Franzman
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I think "Playa" works better. shake

Seriously though, I can see where using names like "Racers" just comes across as being cutesy and pointless, unless it makes more sense to use such a nickname rather than constantly restating something like "a player who controls a racehorse" (especially if it applies to fewer than the total number of players present).

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Erik Capps
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Thunkd wrote:
Capps wrote:
What are you talking about? It IS than in the title!
Nice try It might have worked except BGG references the original thread title above posts when the original title has changed.


GASP! My nefarious plans have failed! You have beaten me this time, but next time I shall come back more powerful then ever before! MWAHAHAHHA!
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Ben Crane
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I'm just gonna jump on with everyone else saying that it should be "player" unless clarity truly demands something else. I'm also going to extend that out to say that all things in a game should be referred to by their common names where possible. Tell me to roll the dice, not the battle cubes. I draw a card, not a flexible-randomizer-tablet.

The example above of Blood Bowl is a good one -- where a game piece is referred to as a "player" (again following common usage since it is a sports game) it makes sense not to also call players players.

Other times where it would be acceptable are in asymetric games, such as stronghold, where you have an Attacker and a Defender, or something like Fury of Dracula with Hunters and Dracula. To say "player" in either of those games when referring to an action that only some players can take makes no sense.

Generally speaking, though, when I'm reading a rulebook, I'm going to mentally translate whatever word the book uses for player into player anyways, so just using player saves me a bit of mental effort while trying to absorb the rules. And saving that effort is a good and worthwhile thing.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Capps wrote:
but next time I shall come back more powerful then ever before!
Well played.
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Blorb Plorbst
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I'm in favor of simplicity and "player" should be used when an actual person playing the game is being referenced but some rules require care.

In Pandemic, for example, refering to actions available to the Medic are more simply written as "The Medic can do XYZ." This is much more direct and clear than saying "The player in the role of the Medic can do XYZ."

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Tony Go
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To quote the late and great Benjamin Franklin: Don't pass judgment in poor favor of the the player, pass judgement in poor favor of the game.
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Joe Salamone
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I think the players should always be referred to as "blokes," even the females.
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Dudes and Babes.
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Erik Capps
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Thank you to everyone who gave me their thoughts! I've handed out a bunch of geekgold and quoted some of you in the article! If you want to give it a look you can click here. Thanks again!
 
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Steve B
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Im not a player, im a farmer!!! #AgricolaLife
 
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Jin Juku
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I think it depends on the game and the rulebook.

If you go with a different term, us it exclusively - don't switch back and forth between "Player" and "Racer" for example.

It also helps when the word is capitalized, e.g. "Racer," or perhaps bolded, e.g. racer, to help indicate it's a keyword.

Also, make the definition right away in the rulebook, and make it very clear that that's the term for the players in the game.
 
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