Let’s talk setting

26 01 2008

I’ve gotten a lot of advice in the last two days from people who think it would be a good idea to include a standard setting for It’s Complicated, instead of explicitly making it a settingless game. It’s interesting to me, because some of these people are friends who told me early in development, “No! This game doesn’t need a setting!” Anyway.

Reasons not to do a standard setting:

  • The game doesn’t need it. The concept is of a genre that isn’t tied to a time period or a particular place; it’s all psychological and emotional.
  • It really lends itself well to all kinds of wacky settings. We’ve played modern day to Mushroom Kingdom, a pulp-action thriller to burnt-out superheroes.
  • There are games that do well without settings: Breaking the Ice and Primetime Adventures are two, and both share roots with It’s Complicated (romantic comedy and television).
  • Example scenarios in the back of the book could easily provide hooks for people too overwhelmed by possibility.

Reasons for a standard setting:

  • Settings sell books. Who doesn’t like setting? I don’t know, but it’s probably the same person who hates puppies and rainbows and ice cream.
  • Settings make books easier to understand. Rules make more sense when they’re in the context of a specific world.
  • There aren’t a lot of settingless games that are popular beyond Breaking the Ice and Primetime Adventures.
  • People love to hack and tinker. Adding a standard setting won’t stop people from coming up with their own: just look at Dogs in the Vineyard.

So, yes, I don’t know. What do you think, dear reader?




One response

26 01 2008

I think I am at least as undecided as you.
(helpful comment of the day!)

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