The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Saturday 5 December 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: The Definition of Success

Let's try very hard now, to forget this whole bullshit idea that RPGs are somehow works of art. Right; RPGs are games. They are meant to be played and enjoyed.

So when you are judging, by that standard, what makes for a "successful" game, the issue becomes one of knowing what a game is for.

A game is not something to be studied and admired for its genius; its something to be played.

Is cleverness of design important? Of course it is. In general, games that are well-designed will tend to be played more and longer than games that are poorly designed.

But is it the ONLY thing that's important? Of course not. It is at least if not more important that a game be designed in such a way that it appeals to people, that it makes people want to play it. Brilliance of design in terms of being consistent and smooth doesn't matter at all if the game is so complex that most people won't enjoy playing it, or if its so dull that no one would bother to play it.
And things like the prettiness of the packaging (be it the board and pieces in a board game, or the artwork and packaging of an RPG) are also of crucial importance, something that the "design uber alles" crowd utterly fails to understand.

And of course, the most important thing in the definition of what makes for a successful game is that it be consistently and repetitively fun to play on a regular basis. If a game is boring after two or three times being played, no matter how clever you might think your rules are, the OVERALL design is crap, because you have FAILED AS A GAME.

So there are undoubtedly objective means to define what makes for a good game or not, what makes for a successful game or not. And contrary to what the Forgers (and others) believe with regard to RPGs, the "system" is not what matters most in all this. By the standards of what logically defines success in a game, good old "incoherent" D&D is obviously, OBJECTIVELY more successful and better in overall qualities than just about any of the Forge games.


(Originally posted May 10, 2008)


  1. Too many Traveller gamers want to add dull rules to their corebooks. They call it progress.

  2. Traveller back in the day was brilliantly marketed, from the mayday on the cover / box to the color themed stripes and the general sense of, for once, the universe being ENORMOUS.

    It disengaged my playing group the more of that universe it detailed, ironically enough.