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Subject: What would be a good icon for illustrating "level of conflict" on game boxes? rss

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Mika R.
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Some casual people accidentally buy games that are too confrontational for their group. Afterwards they have to invent house rules to mitigate the problem. House ruling is perfectly OK but I wonder if in some cases a game has been purchased with false preconception because the box cover hasn't given sufficient details on how direct the conflict is in a game.

I was wondering if the degree of conflict between players could be communicated using icons similar to ones that give brief details about game length, number of players, complexity etc. You know, the black and white silhouettes showing humanoid forms in stereotypical positions, light bulbs to illustrate complexity etc.

Now the fun part, what does the icon of "conflict" as a game feature look like? Please illustrate! It could be even a set of icons describing the degree of confrontation. It's your call.

The rules for the illustration. It has to be:

* monochromatic image
* iconic, similar to the style used on the game boxes.
* communicates the topic "game has conflict"
* should also communicate the 5 point scale degree of conflict. Either a set of icons each illustrating a different level or just textual description of levels.
* the icon is not limited depicting only human forms, other suitable iconography can be used as well. Innovate!

This could be a cool topic for competition, but I'm saving for the geek badge and feeling mingy... If anyone wants to donate to this post, I'll forward them to the most thumbed illustration (that follows the rules above) posted in this thread (on Wednesday evening latest, ends at 1900 GMT +2). I'll donate 0.5-1 GG myself to appear less mingy than what you think of me right now.


I'm looking for light-hearted and humorous take on the subject. I have no purpose of reusing the icons, just plain curious what people would come up with.

If an official icon already exists for board games, it is probably not sufficiently humorous and thus doesn't invalidate this "contest".

EDIT: I'd like request everyone using a scale or range (abstract or numeric) for their levels of conflict to elaborate what would the minimum, medium and maximum levels mean in their system.
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Daniel Danzer
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Paolo Robino
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Two crossed swords. Something like this:



Below, the squares suggested by Daniel.
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Mika R.
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Nice start! Could you give text description on what would the levels 1-5 correspond to?
 
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Nathan James
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Depending on the level of conflict: 1) two people holding hands and skipping, 2) two people in a foot-race, 3) two people in a staring contest, 4) one person tripping another, 5) one person strangles another, or two players circling one another as they slowly wave knives at each other.

These translate roughly as, cooperative game, multi-player solitaire, competition for limited resources, occasional opportunity to mess somebody up, opportunity to really ruin someone's game, and finally constant direct conflict.
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Lee Wardle
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Two fists that get closer and have a larger "POW" symbol in the middle as the level increases.
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Mikko Mentula
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I don't think a set of different icons would work that well as one should now the full set in order to understand the meaning of the icon. I think two crossed swords (as in Paolo's post) is the most iconic symbol of conflict. There could be a numerical explanation on the side (from 1 to 5 for example) or even preferably a color scale from peaceful green (low conflict) to murderous red (high conflict) with a meter on the scale showing the conflict level matching the game in question.
 
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Mika R.
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Thanks for the posts so far (keep them coming people!). I'd like request everyone using a scale or range for the level of conflict to elaborate what would the minimum, medium and maximum levels mean in their system.
 
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Daniel Danzer
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The swords are too much "war" to me. There are games with a LOT of conflict / confrontation, but not "war-like".

Well, regarding to the scale, I guess it sounds something like that:

1: Very low conflict. Everybody is trying to win, that`s all. No interaction. Like parallel puzzles - "Take it easy!" or the like. Cooperative games.
Nothing you do affects the success of your opponent.

2: Some Conflict. At least there are some ressources both players want or something like that. Agricola / Dominion.
Something you do affects the success of your opponent.

3: Conflict / Confrontation an equal part of the game. There are others like ressource management, but the interactive, confrontative part is as equal. Many Euros are like this. Some backstabbing, but still something you build. Train games ...
Many things affect in one way or the other the success of your opponent.

4. Conflict / Confrontation are the main part of the game. Many wargames (still having ressource management or some other mechanics), Confucius, Terrain Vague.
Anything you do affects almost directly the success of your opponent.

5. Confrontation is the ONLY part of the game. Two player abstracts like Chess or Go, some Wargames (probably, I don`t know this).
Kill your opponent!
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Laurence Parsons
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I don't have the artistic ability to create decent stuff like this, but a four step conflict-level measurement could be:
level 1 - Cooperative game (Pandemic) - a handshake
level 2 - no conflict (Take it to the Limit!) - a smiley face
level 3 - conflict plays a part in the game (Amun-Re) - a dagger
level 4 - conflict is the major theme (Neuroshima Hex!) - a mushroom cloud

Although I agree with the poster who said that these icons will mean nothing if you don't know the whole set, or have some descriptive text.
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Martin
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A stylized version of this

 
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Mikko Mentula
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eikka wrote:
Thanks for the posts so far (keep them coming people!). I'd like request everyone using a scale or range for the level of conflict to elaborate what would the minimum, medium and maximum levels mean in their system.

The scale should be simple enough to have an effect with 5 (or even just 3) different options.

Quick examples for the scale of 5.

5: All about conflict: "Can you hear the loud horns and vicious battle cries!"
4: Heavy conflict: "It's better to crush your enemy than wait for being crushed!"
3: Moderate conflict "Every man for himself!"
2: Mild conflict: "Sometimes you can't be friends with everybody."
1: No conflict: "Peace, love and harmony for everyone!"
 
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David K
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Mika R.
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duchamp wrote:

3: Conflict / Confrontation an equal part of the game. There are others like ressource management, but the interactive, confrontative part is as equal. Many Euros are like this. Some backstabbing, but still something you build. Train games ...
Many things affect in one way or the other the success of your opponent.

4. Conflict / Confrontation are the main part of the game. Many wargames (still having ressource management or some other mechanics), Confucius, Terrain Vague.
Anything you do affects almost directly the success of your opponent.

5. Confrontation is the ONLY part of the game. Two player abstracts like Chess or Go, some Wargames (probably, I don`t know this).
Kill your opponent!


The game examples you provided on the categories are interesting. Do you think a two person game of chess is more confrontational than for example multiplayer game of Diplomacy? I ask this because it feels like chess is less confrontational than multiplayer games that have player elimination, ganging up and kingmaking.
 
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Lee Massey
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I don't have a picture but I would suggest crossed swords or flintlock pistols!
 
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Steve Gilbert
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This assumes that the level of conflict is a constant determined by the game. In reality random elements even in the same game with the same players can lead to different conflict levels. For example, in TTR if all my routes are on the West Coast and your routes are on the East Coast then there will be very little conflict. On the other hand, if my route cards are nearly impossible to complete then I'll deliberately try to make sure you don't complete your routes either.

In short, random factors can influence the conflict level of a game, although I do agree that some games (e.g. Risk) are entirely dependent upon conflict, while in others (e.g. TTR) conflict is optional.
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Daniel Danzer
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eikka wrote:
The game examples you provided on the categories are interesting. Do you think a two person game of chess is more confrontational than for example multiplayer game of Diplomacy? I ask this because it feels like chess is less confrontational than multiplayer games that have player elimination, ganging up and kingmaking.

Well, Diplomacy is probably a high 5 - but I never played it. Chess or any 2-player abstract is in a way pure conflict / confrontation, as there is NOTHING besides the fight. You are not even able to play non-confrontational. Every move you do affects the whole board. It is feeling-wise not so "controversial", since there is no "backstabbing" or negotiation or promises not being kept. So, there might be different things considered "conflict/confrontation". It doesn`t help - you need to say then, what the category should be for.

sgilbert wrote:
In reality random elements even in the same game with the same players can lead to different conflict levels.


Even scales on the boxes saying "Luck factor: 3/5, strategy 4/5" can fail delivering this to a certain group of players - or on different occasions of the same group. If they lay much more trust in their luck and don`t think about strategy, the game plays different for them. You always have the balance of the mechanisms as designed and consideruing the game well played.
 
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Mika R.
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sgilbert wrote:
In short, random factors can influence the conflict level of a game, although I do agree that some games (e.g. Risk) are entirely dependent upon conflict, while in others (e.g. TTR) conflict is optional.


You are right, conflict may vary. But during playtesting designers should gain some kind of view how conflict-prone their game is. Some games have only the most lucrative resources contested so that the optionality of conflict may turn into necessity only after players gain more skills and start maximising their game score.
 
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Mika R.
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duchamp wrote:
It is feeling-wise not so "controversial", since there is no "backstabbing" or negotiation or promises not being kept. So, there might be different things considered "conflict/confrontation". It doesn`t help - you need to say then, what the category should be for.


No, I quite agree on your definition about level of conflict, every game where the purpose is to take resources directly from other players is having high conflict mechanics. However, when the main purpose of the game is to "eat pawns" or "take regions" from other players, the players have openly agreed on this contract by starting the game. When the mechanics have the opportunity to take regions or eat pawns but it is not the priority to achieve victory, things tend to become more confrontational from the meta game perspective: "You didn't have to attack me but you chose to, that's evil and will be tit-for-tatted!"
 
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Daniel Danzer
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A-ha!

So, it is the "argument potential" you are looking for!

These need to be two stylized silhouettes facing each other. Only spheric heads. Visible mouth and eyes.
1: Smile
2. Neutral
3: frowning
4. Wide open mouth, argueing
5. Rage

Not enough time right now to get this visualized ...
 
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Mika R.
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duchamp wrote:
A-ha!

So, it is the "argument potential" you are looking for!

These need to be two stylized silhouettes facing each other. Only spheric heads. Visible mouth and eyes.
1: Smile
2. Neutral
3: frowning
4. Wide open mouth, argueing
5. Rage

Not enough time right now to get this visualized ...


Yep.. That's what I thought too. That is the most accurate description for the effect, but would you buy a game that has an icon of raging people on the front cover?

 
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J H
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Steve Gilbert
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duchamp wrote:
A-ha!

So, it is the "argument potential" you are looking for!

These need to be two stylized silhouettes facing each other. Only spheric heads. Visible mouth and eyes.
1: Smile
2. Neutral
3: frowning
4. Wide open mouth, argueing
5. Rage

Not enough time right now to get this visualized ...


I find it interesting that the conflict in boardgaming is portrayed by many people as negative. I see it more as a healthy release within the social parameters of a game. Few complain that soccer, or football is "too" aggressive.

I personally enjoy trying to outwit/outplay my opponents. To me a rating system would be:

Hysterical laughing (most conflict)
Smile
Bored
Sleeping
Hand in shape of gun pointed at forehead (least conflict)
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J H
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= No conflict

= Mild conflict

= Some conflict

arrrh = Regular conflict

angry = Aggressive conflict

devil = Overly-aggressive conflict

cry = So much conflict someone will cry.
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Daniel Danzer
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zombie
 
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