Friday, November 3, 2017

Do limits create inspiration?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the limitations of the medium and how they can inspire and refine creativity.

What got me started down this road was a relatively recent thread about Japanese board game culture. According to the thread, many Japanese designers self-publish small print runs. Which has lent itself to both card games and micro games.

Financial and other practical limits resulting in refining game mechanics is nothing new. Andrew Looney came up with Fluxx because Looney Labs needed a product they could make cheaper than their pyramids. I like the pyramids more but Fluxx is their flagship property. Pico, the predecessor of Pico 2, was the result of a printing overrun and I’d argue it set the gold standard for micro games for over ten years.

And probably one of the biggest examples is that legend and Wizards of the Coast PR has it that Magic the Gathering was developed by Richard Garfield to help finance RoboRally. Which to my mind is like inventing the car engine so you can have power windows. You can tell I don’t like RoboRally. :D

And there certainly seems to be a thriving micro game interest on Kickstarter. Which makes sense to start small if you are new to publishing.

But I wonder if the Japanese game designer culture, if it’s actually like that thread suggests , super encourages this kind of creativity. Seiji Kanai kind of single-handedly changed the world of micro games with Love Letter. Not just because it is popular but because it proved that a micro game could have an actual depth of play.

Of course, I could be a 100% wrong. The idea is just an idea that struck me, unsupported by any research. But I do like the idea that restrictions lead to greater creativity and higher quality.

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