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Subject: It can be strangely difficult to read a rule book rss

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For a game you are well familiar with.

I will sometimes find myself reading what I think the book is telling me rather than what it actually says.
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I write/edit for a living, which includes documenting procedures/rules, but I hate reading game rulebooks. I think the problem is that my editing cap is always on, and I'm looking at the rulebook's effectiveness as a rules transmitter and not as a way to play the game.

For that reason I prefer learning from someone who has played the game, so much so that games have sat on my shelf unopened because I had no one to teach me.

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I enjoy reading rulebooks, oddly enough. I always have one or two I'm actively reading. Sometimes I don't even own the game.
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frumpish wrote:
For a game you are well familiar with.

I will sometimes find myself reading what I think the book is telling me rather than what it actually says.


I do this more than I care to admit! blush

My worst offense regarding this is when I am reading along and I "anticipate" what I am reading before finishing and then make a mess of the real interpretation of the rules. shake
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Todd Walden
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This is one of the most common problems we run into when editing rule books. Designers know exactly what everything means and how everything works in their own games because they designed them. That can be a HUGELY disadvantageous blind spot when writing rules.

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Peter Sbirakos
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Yes sir!

I love to read on a wide range of subjects but at home with a rule book, within a half hour of reading, I start to fall asleep - only happens with rule books. The only cure is to head off to a coffee shop, drink coffee, headphones on, listen to music and read. Viola! The sleep effect cured, and rule book read!
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roger miller
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Many people reading rule books read with less than full attention and with expectations from other games. If you are writing rules that are different than the norm you must be prepared to repeat yourself, reword it different ways, and use examples to try to break through to your audience. Learned this lesson the hard way.
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madkarateman wrote:
Yes sir!

I love to read on a wide range of subjects but at home with a rule book, within a half hour of reading, I start to fall asleep - only happens with rule books. The only cure is to head off to a coffee shop, drink coffee, headphones on, listen to music and read. Viola! The sleep effect cured, and rule book read!


Same for me.

I've read that each type of book is a different tool, and our brains are always altered by the nature of the tool we are using. When I read an instruction manual or a particularly well-written history book, I am hyper focused.

But rulebooks always seem like a necessary hurdle, some more difficult than others (Yes, I'm looking at you, Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game) and my brain just treats the text differently.
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rmiller1093 wrote:
Many people reading rule books read with less than full attention and with expectations from other games. If you are writing rules that are different than the norm you must be prepared to repeat yourself, reword it different ways, and use examples to try to break through to your audience. Learned this lesson the hard way.


It's impossible to write a rulebook every last reader will comprehend. Someone will find a way to be confused. It's human nature.
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frumpish wrote:
I will sometimes find myself reading what I think the book is telling me rather than what it actually says.
I witnessed odd things from my prior office life upon reading documents that had undergone multiple re-writes. I think about that when I find imprecisely written rules, that perhaps the authors knew what it was supposed to say and thereby had convinced themselves that it did say it. A fresh set of eyes would immediately tell them otherwise.

and reading further down the responses I find confirmation.

JesterPoet wrote:
This is one of the most common problems we run into when editing rule books. Designers know exactly what everything means and how everything works in their own games because they designed them. That can be a HUGELY disadvantageous blind spot when writing rules.

... a fresh set of eyes...

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I don't mind reading well-written rules. I found Agricola quite hard to learn from the rulebook. Caylus was a mess, too.

Macao was good, though I still don't agree with the consensus on the opening setup of the office cards. The picture shows them with the bottom one hidden and the top one revealed, and the text doesn't clarify it.
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cbs42 wrote:
I enjoy reading rulebooks, oddly enough. I always have one or two I'm actively reading. Sometimes I don't even own the game.


In the days before most rulebooks were available on BGG or a publisher's website, I sometimes bought games so I could read the rulebook.

I frequently re-read the rules before I play a complex game I have not played for a while. In past years I re-read the War of the Ring (First Edition) rules each year before WBC; this year I am reading the War of the Ring (Second Edition) rules.

Only rarely do I find a rule I have misplayed, but sometimes I gain a better understanding of an option I have previously avoided.
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actuaryesquire wrote:
I frequently re-read the rules before I play


I always try to do this. Most games have corner case rules that are easily forgotten.
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actuaryesquire wrote:
In the days before most rulebooks were available on BGG or a publisher's website, I sometimes bought games so I could read the rulebook.
Now that is mind-boggling for me. I use rule-reading ahead of time as one of my most important tools for selecting a game to buy.


and several times years ago I sent thank-you notes (after purchase) to Rio Grande Games for making that possible when other publishers didn't

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JesterPoet wrote:
This is one of the most common problems we run into when editing rule books. Designers know exactly what everything means and how everything works in their own games because they designed them. That can be a HUGELY disadvantageous blind spot when writing rules.


I see the same problem in the world of software. I started learning how to program during the Gerald Ford administration, and actually started working in the field during the first Reagan administration. A 'law of programming' that I formulated after a few years is "The worst person in the world to test software is the programmer who created it."

Having dabbled in game design a bit, and struggled to write comprehensible rules, I see how the same problem crops up in both fields. The designer knows what his creation is supposed to do, and ends up testing/writing for a person who is very familiar with how the thing *should* work (himself), and forgets that someone coming in fresh has no idea what's supposed to happen, and they end up frustrated with the result.
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claymore_57 wrote:
JesterPoet wrote:
This is one of the most common problems we run into when editing rule books. Designers know exactly what everything means and how everything works in their own games because they designed them. That can be a HUGELY disadvantageous blind spot when writing rules.


I see the same problem in the world of software. I started learning how to program during the Gerald Ford administration, and actually started working in the field during the first Reagan administration. A 'law of programming' that I formulated after a few years is "The worst person in the world to test software is the programmer who created it."

Having dabbled in game design a bit, and struggled to write comprehensible rules, I see how the same problem crops up in both fields. The designer knows what his creation is supposed to do, and ends up testing/writing for a person who is very familiar with how the thing *should* work (himself), and forgets that someone coming in fresh has no idea what's supposed to happen, and they end up frustrated with the result.


No one is persona non grata more in some companies than a writer tasked with writing rules and who finds problems with a source in the process of writing those rules.

Who can break a piece of software faster than the person showing others how to use it? At least, that's been my experience.

Nothing like the programmers being told their code doesn't work right, and the guy writing the manual discovered the problem. You start watching your back to make sure no one sticks a sharp object in it.
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