Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Need help with Terminology

As far as I can tell, there are four basic types of interaction in a two-player simultaneous game:

Pure cooperation -- you work together against the game. One could make this REALLY obvious by having the players share a life meter, score, etc.

Pure competition -- players are in direct opposition, and there is a Winner and a Loser (or a draw game, maybe).

What I call "coopetition" -- there are two possible outcomes: either one player wins and the other loses, OR both players lose (but a shared victory is not possible). This forces the players to work together to avoid the we-both-lose outcome, but they also have to work against each other to avoid the I-lose-you-win outcome. Extremely rare in the field, but one of my favorite types of game forms.

And then there's this fourth, open-ended style where players can cooperate or compete at their discretion. The most obvious examples are games like Joust and Wizard of Wor where players can kill each other (and the game offers some reward for doing so), but players can also keep out of each other's way and just work as a team to get to the highest level they can. What do you call this style of gameplay? The best I can come up with is "co-option-tition" or "co-optional", both of which sound really lame to me.

Any ideas?


Adam Yulish said...

While I love your word "coopetition", I think you could just as easily use that label to describe Wizard of Wor and Joust, so I recommend avoiding that label -- I think coopetition will cause confusion. In its place, maybe use "opt-out", and then use "opt-in" for that last, fourth style. Similar to BMG, Columbia House, and other media services, the third interaction style assumes the players will work together until one decides to opt out and bail on the teammates. In the fourth interaction style, the players choose at all times whether or not to opt-in; their survival does not depend on cooperation.

There must be cooler words that "opt out" and "opt in". But I think using a different pair of words will help students keep the styles straight.

Hope this helps!

Adam Yulish said...

I posted that last comment too fast. :) I meant to use the BMG/Columbia House example to mention how they send you stuff you have to pay for unless you explicitly tell them not to send it. You must choose when you want out of an offer, or if you want out of the club itself. Thus the "opt out" terminology.

Gilmoy said...

Maybe you're milking the "-ition" pun too much.

- pure competition = antagonist
- cooptition = ambivalent
- open-style = agnostic

Gilmoy said...

Within the "coopetition" subgenre, I've nursed (for years!) a whimsy game sketch that deliberately mucks up the players' objectives. I loosely call it "Rettati", after a wizard (within a generic fantasy world) who first adopted this style as a way to defeat Crevasse-Spanning Bridge Guard Demons (cf. the Durin's Bane Balrog). The game occurs on a board made of destructible cells, possibly with automatic decay; both players can dump mana / resources into the ground to reinforce or chip away at it. The objective is vaguely to get across first, and then collapse the floor, and your opponent with it. Cooperation is sometimes enforced because both sides must shore up the weak floor, and have no time for each other.

Meme-seeds include the Milton Bradley "Icebreaker" game, and "reflexive chess" (klin'zha'kinta) from the TOS Star Trek novel "The Final Reflection", in which there is only one side of pieces (no pawns), and both sides either paradrop a piece onto an empty board, or move one that's already in play. (One way to think of it is that the "king" piece is yours if it's in check on your move, your opponent's if not, and neutral otherwise.)

Rettati comes with a backstory and cheesy slogan; the idea is that first the wizard has to ask the demon whether he knows the theory of this particular game, and is willing to play by these rules. (This, in turn, implies that wizard-bridge demon encounters have occurred for so many millenia that both sides have amassed a corpus of theory, like chess literature -- which is part of the in-joke.) Hence, the wizard figure yells, "Do you accept Rettatti?", and the demon laughs, and they play. That's the slogan:

- Rettati: Do You Accept

It's /deliberately/ cheesy. That's part of its genius!