Tensions in Live-Action Roleplaying Game Design: A Case Study with the MIT Assassins’ Guild

Philip Tan

Philip Tan

A textual analysis of games of the MIT Assassins’ Guild with an ethnographic and historical slant provides an analysis of five kinds of tensions in the process of the design and the implementation of mechanics in MIT Assassins’ Guild Live-Action Roleplaying games. These tensions are a product of a combination of the history of roleplaying games and other Live-Action simulative activities, the specific logistical and historical circumstances of the MIT Assassins’ Guild and the expectations of the members of the MIT Assassins’ Guild. Game designers and players frequently cite case studies and have developed a useful vocabulary that are worth learning to facilitate further discussion of game design.

Guild game mechanics are designed for feasibility of implementation and execution by the game designers and the players, to provide and hide information from players in a timely manner, to dissociate player decisions from character actions, to enhance the verisimilitude and the atmosphere of the game for the players, and to generate, balance and resolve interesting competition among players. Experienced game designers keep all these tensions in mind while designing mechanics that can satisfy all the criteria and highlight desirable traits that arise from the interplay of the tensions.

Download.

Philip Tan

Creative Director, MIT Game Lab