I’ve come to face some challenges in my life that have compelled me to contemplate time. I mean, whatever this time thing is, we know it’s super valuable. It’s the most valuable commodity we have, because we can never buy more of it. Now and then I’ll find myself concerned about time. Am I spending my time well? How can I make the most out of my time?
At some point we all realize: You never have enough time to do all the things you want to do. The benefit in this is the realization that we can consciously choose the things that are most important. How do you stop wasting time? Stop thinking about time as a thing that you can afford to waste.
This is relevant to game design. Actually it’s relevant to all forms of media. Everywhere you go, there are hundreds of voices, screens and billboards fighting for your time. A half-dozen advertisements are the cover-charge for a night of spending your time on the TV.
For many of us, we feel we have less and less time. Maybe this is because we constantly invent more ways to spend it.
How is this relevant to game design, in particular? When we sit around the table, we are committing time with the hope that we will get a valuable experience in return. It’s a big gamble. There are many great games that take a lot of time to learn, set up and play. How can we designers help people make the most of that time?
Many of us gamers have gotten used to the idea that “big games take a lot of time to learn.” However I think there are a lot of people outside the door, who would like to play games, but don’t want to risk the time. They might be willing to spend a couple hours playing, but they don’t want to risk dozens of hours learning the game.
“I’ve always wanted to try that,” is something that I hear a lot of people say about roleplaying games. I love Dungeons and Dragons. I love opening a box and seeing a hundred plastic pieces. That’s my cup of tea. But I see a lot of people who are intimidated by the big rulebooks. They don’t know how to begin. They see themselves drowning in information and jargon they can’t understand. Some other media avenue wins their time instead.
That’s why I want to streamline future editions of Evocraft. I want it to take as little time as possible to jump into the world. You can develop the world as you go, but I’ve had the goal of teaching a new player in 15 minutes how to begin. Other RPGs have tried starter sets and tutorials, but I don’t think this has always hit the mark. There are hundreds of people out there who would love to spend their time in an imaginary world, for a while, but for whatever reason, we haven’t reached them. How can we fit tabletop gaming successfully into a world where people skim books, rather than read them, and siphon their into a hundred different directions?