The Designers Preference vs. Players Choice


“It is your work in this life that is the ultimate seduction” – PABLO PICASSO

I may design a game which uses tile laying as a mechanic that is both the objective and the means to win the game (my preference), then I may give the players different ways to place these tiles, and different ways to acquire these tiles, and play these tiles (their choices).

For clarity reasons, I’m going to dichotomize the difference between Preference and Choice. In this article, Preference will define as being when the designer is faced with a decision and Choice will be used to reference the players’ decision. In all reality, the player doesn’t have a preference because his inputs and outputs are limited by the Preferences of the designer and/or developer. Therefore, as a rule, the player must always Choose based on the designers Preference.

I wrote briefly about this concept in the article “Utility Maximization and a Trading Card Mechanic,” here I will advance this idea. Read more

Utility Maximization and a Trading Card Mechanic

“By focusing on positive utilities in game design rather than mechanical outputs, we can increase the player’s happiness as he plays the game. This is what utility maximization in game design means.”


As we continue to apply economic theories and principles to our board game design process, I’d like to look at an essential economic theory and its relations to decision making in game design and playtesting. The theory of utility maximization.

For this example let’s consider using a trading card mechanic as a utility choice in a game. Suppose players have the opportunity to have a selection of cards in their hands, say between zero and five, but they can have no more than five and no less than zero (the idea of a player having negative cards in his hand, is an interesting mechanic to explore, but it is outside the scope of this article).

Here are 2 options we can give players from the onset: Read more

Edison Theory of Game Design (for struggling designers)

 “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison, inventor of over 1,000 patents

It has been said that Thomas Edison had a pile of glass as high as his fifth-floor building window. He had tried 10,000 times to make the light-bulb a stable fixture without success. So it’s said.

In board game design the designer can oft feel overwhelmed and alone accompanied only by his frustrations and fear. Imagine how Thomas Edison must have felt. Read more

The Mechanic of Macro vs. Micro Economics (In) Game Design

“Just like in real life, in our games we can quickly evolve the positions which we want to put the players in, by simply evolving their choices. Not necessarily giving them more choices.”


“It’s the economy stupid…” the political rhetoric made famous during the course of the 1990’s American Presidential campaigns may have been a fast one-liner, turned slogan, but it still holds a lot of weight and truth today, as a matter of fact; we can apply it to our board game design.

Prior to crashing headlong into the table-top game design, I unknowingly thought that I wouldn’t have so much trouble with game design. Then why did I and what changed? Read more

Going Beyond Traditional Game Design Theory (for the table-top game designer)

“Welcome to UNDER the TABLE & GAMING”

Please join in the discussions. Subscribe. Share. As we go beyond Game Design Theory together! If you’re a game designer or publisher feel free to get involved in the conversation. Everything here is meant to be an open-ended discussion.

This game blog is going to be about the applied physics of the economic systems used for game design, as I introduce the Edison Theory of Game Design to you. Although we’ll still talk theory, it’ll just be in ways you’ve never thought possible, that is until now.

We’re really not about applied physics or economics but more-so about applying those principles that are used in Macro and Micro Economics, into the economic systems of our game worlds by taking what I’ve learned in business and applying it to our game worlds design.

Welcome to the discussion. Join. Go Beyond. As I attempt to enter the world of game design for the very first time! Things will constantly be changing and new articles are bound to show up in droves.

I struggled to grasp the concepts traditionally laid out in game design theory, so much so that I almost walked away from a life-long dream to design and publish my own game.

Then I realized that most theorists were talking theory only, without any follow through, in other words, they weren’t using applied logic.

Here we apply logic.

Read the articles, leave comments, ask questions. Feel free to disagree, I won’t crush you too hard. Just kidding.

This is the place where I’ll be leaving links and threads to outside sources which help promote my views. They will constantly be updating and changing as I collect usefull resource material.

The first one of these covers the topic of ART Vs. DESIGN. Check it out.

The Second one is a link to the LUDOLOGY podcast.


JR Honeycutt WAITRESS GAMES, game Developer