Chapter 4: Competitions

A host of problems stemming from the lack of interactive mediums were discussed in the last chapter. The solution to these problems is relative simple: look at a variety of interactive titles from throughout history and figure out fitting categories.

Let’s start with a loose group of competitive activities people have enjoyed for hundreds, even thousands of years:

 

One way to define something is to look at multiple examples and find the minimum amount of shared aspects in all of them. What are the shared aspects of Football, Chess and Hearts? Think about that for a moment.

Thought enough?

Right, here they are:

  • Players
  • Rules
  • Actions
  • Winning
  • Losing

Putting all these together results in a fitting definition:
A system of rules the players interact with by choosing actions in order to win and not to lose.

This definition has a few implications:

  • Choosing actions to improve your chances of winning can be referred to as decision making
  • Actions irreversibly change the state of the system defined by the rules. If actions were completely reversible then the system can get into a loop where no-one wins or loses as players are simply reversing each others actions.
  • The actions available to each player rely on the current state. As such actions taken in the past can (and usually do) affect which actions will be available in the present and the future.
  • Winning and losing are both needed for a competition. An activity with nothing to strive for or achieve doesn’t harbor the competitive spirit while an activity where you always succeed is trivial, if everyone wins then in reality no-one does.

Going digital gives us a few additional possibilities:

  • Not all players need to be humans. AI opponents allow for single player competitions.
  • Cooperative competitions, where human players compete against an AI, are also possible.

 

What should this new medium be called? Here’s the term I use, for what it’s worth:

Decision making competition

 

That’s the first one down.

IDM4

There are many interactive works which don’t fit this category. They should have their own mediums of course! That is next.

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