My favorite takeaways from the Mike Selinker’s “Writing Precise :
“Call the thing what it is… Placing intermediary names for things in the way of comprehension only obscures comprehension” and “Use real words.”
- This is so direct and applicable. I’ve used “intermediary” names in the past, sometimes symbolic, thinking they contributed to the game “world” or simplified things for the players, but Selinker’s argument really exposes that as nonsense. At most, using intermediate terms, especially ones that aren’t “real” was a shortcut for me as the author of the rules, not something I was doing for the benefit of players. The better, though harder, thing to do is explain things in concise, natural language.
“The rules you select should be chosen not on the basis of whether you like how they play, but whether you can explain how they play.”
- This is “kill your darlings” for game designers, and it’s related to the above advise about intermediate terminology in that the crucible for rules should be whether, after trying hard, it can be rendered in simple, concise language. In essays, sentences with too many dependent clauses are often a sign of an underdeveloped or incoherent argument. Similarly, the inability to clearly express a rule in simple language (after trying really hard) should alert the game designer to a problem with the rule.