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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: What does the phrase "game system" mean to you? rss

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Eric Jome
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In reading another thread, an interesting thought came to me. When is a game more than just the game itself, expanding to a whole genre or game system? It seems that when enough games are made in the same vein, then we don't really seem to see the individual games anymore, but the entire thing becomes a hegemony game system... think crayon rails or 18xx. Is it possible for a game to receive so many expansions that it is no longer just the game and is now an entire game system - take Munchkin or Arkham Horror has examples. And what about genres where games are not only very similar mechanically, but in terms of subject matter, iconography, and style - hex and counter wargames for example?

What are some game systems? What are some games that are nearly entire systems already? Are there game systems that we aren't currently recognizing?
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Rodney Clowsewitz
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To me game system means I'll be spending too much money on a mediocre game that comes in 6 different boxes.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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This is what I think of:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Games_by_equipment

The distinction of game vs. game system is primarily important to me because I mark one representative game of a system as owned and do not mark the rest as owned. For example, I own several stashes of Icehouse Pieces, but the only game of this game system that I have marked as owned is Icehouse, even though I have the equipment to play several other games, including Homeworlds.
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David Douglas
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To me, a "game system" is a defined set of rules that is used in multiple games or "modules" with little variation. There may be specific additions to the core system given the particular setting, time period, or simply because as the system ages, improvements are made--but the game system will still be identifiable by the core set of rules.

A good example is the Squad Leader game system (which I don't own or play, but have observed over years). Despite evolving and adding many, many new nationalities, vehicles, settings, terrain, and even time periods (Israeli-Arab war, Korean war, or French Indochina in the 1950s), the rules are still patently Squad Leader, advanced or not.
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Paul W
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When I think of "game system", to me that means an underlying set of rules that are applied across multiple games (which may or may not be cross-compatible), not a particular game with a lot of expansions. For example, I wouldn't call Memoir '44 a game system, but I would say that is implements the Commands and Colors game system (as do Battle Cry, Battle Lore, etc). Likewise, I'd say that Hammer of the Scots and Richard III: The Wars of the Roses use the same game system from what I know of them, as the basic underlying gameplay rules are the same.

Munchkin is also a game system imo, because it is basically a simple underlying rule system implemented across several different genres. The fact that you have the option of playing the games together doesn't change that they're all independent (if very similar) games.
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Steve B
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To me, a game system is a set of rules that just takes on different themes/genres.

As mentioned, Munchkin is a great example. Many different themes/genres, same rules set, and you can COMBINE them all.

Ideally, many of the families listed on BGG could be game systems: Fluxx, Munchkin, Carcassonne... All these have different themes/genres, but can also be combined together to make a BIGGER game. (Only exception of combining here are Carcassonne spin-offs such as Hunters and Gatherers).
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Russ Williams
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Like so many such questions, "it depends" on context.

I think of something like Combat Commander or Conflict of Heroes: rules systems that are 95% compatible between games in the series. If you know the rules to one, you know the rules to the others except for a few changes.

I think of something like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan: games which are superficially similar and share some mechanics, but are in no way compatible like CC and CoH.

I think of something like Icehouse pyramids or Piecepack sets: specific equipment that has many games made for it which have nothing in common except that they use the equipment and that they typically have a certain ineffable common spirit or culture to them.

Probably there are other paradigms I'm not remember now as well.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Systems are collections of games in which a competent player can leverage the vast majority of their knowledge and skill in one game toward competent play in the other games of the system.
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Michael Leuchtenburg
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It's definitely about the mechanics, *not* the bits. Icehouse games are not a system, nor are Piecepack games. They're just games that happen to use the same bits. To claim such is akin to claiming that the games in Klutz Book of Classic Board Games are a system. I doubt anyone would claim that Checkers, Mancala, Hasami Shogi, Go, and Nine Men's Morris - a few of the games in the Klutz book - should be counted as a system, but they can be played with the same pieces and different boards, much as with Icehouse games.
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Russ Williams
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dyfrgi wrote:
It's definitely about the mechanics, *not* the bits. Icehouse games are not a system, nor are Piecepack games.
\
From a logical point of view, I completely agree.

But in answer to cosine's question, "game system" does indeed sometimes mean Icehouse pyramids to me, simply because (whether logically or illogically) the phrase is often used that way... I took it as a question about actual language usage, not a question about how the term "should" be used. Perhaps I misunderstood the intent.
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zoran
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Simple. Use the Socratic method

1 identify a number of examples of game systems

2 find things they seem to have in common

3 show that no definition is satisfactory

4 abandon attempt, now knowing that you don't know


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