A stone brick wall

Barriers

If you have been playing RPG’s for very long you have probably tried more than Dungeons and Dragons. Some games that you’ve tried have likely inspired your campaigns in new directions while others left you confused and frustrated. At some point I’ll discuss the former type of game and gaining inspiration but this time I’m focusing on the latter.

I believe that these games leave us confused and frustrated due to their barriers to play. These barriers keep players from getting their desired experience. Barriers themselves are not inherently bad. A barrier that reinforces the play experience in a positive way is a choice. It is the barrier that is not a choice for improving play experience but of convenience that is a barrier which should concern a designer.

Convenience is closely tied to convention, doing things the way that they have been done since the early days is not a design choice that moves the medium forward. I wouldn’t argue that conventional RPG’s are bad but that they simply present a particular play experience and that this is not the only play experience an RPG can have.
One reason I advocate for moving beyond convention is because D&D is already a product and if your game isn’t doing anything new why would people play it? I also temper this with the ‘heartbreaker’ title bestowed on many D&D clones.

What are some barriers you have experienced in games? What do you do to remove barriers in your designs? How have you used barriers to reinforce the desired play experience?



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