Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Choosing Games wiki page--The First Elitism for Looney Games?

  • FromBrian Campbell <lambda@xxxxxxx>
  • DateFri, 13 Apr 2007 12:35:28 -0400
On Apr 13, 2007, at 11:19 AM, David Artman wrote:

* Given: Publishing a pyramid game has so far been controlled through
Looney Labs' ability and willingness to print.
* Given: The vast majority of Icehouse games have been created after
Hypothermia went out of print.

An issue of Hypothermia was published just last year with several new games.

* Given: I haven't heard of or seen an Icehouse Game Design contest
since I've been an owner of pyramids.

The Icehouse game design contest has gone dormant, since it was passed on to a new organizer who disappeared for a while. I think that the solution to this, however, is to start it back up again, perhaps in a slightly different format. I think it's great to recognize the best of Icehouse games.

* Given: Many Icehouse games can't translate to a computer format--and
I'd argue many more SHOULDN'T (whatever happened to getting together
with friends?).

I'm all for playing games in person, and love to do so when I get the chance. That said, it can sometimes be hard to find opponents, especially living in rural Vermont, and being able to go online and always find a game available can really increase the amount I can play a given game. Playing games online can also mean an increase in the number of in person opponents available, because people can learn the game online and later play in person.

Given the above, I posit that a game will NEVER qualify for Choosing
Games again, unless some kind of democratic upsurge of proponents Admin
Requests it enough (and an admin pays any attention to those tags). In
effect, the Choosing Games is a "Past Masters" list and nothing more;
it's fossilization flies in the face of wiki principles; and it's the
FIRST scent of elitism I've EVER smelled around a Looney product. Yes,

Is it elitism to want to expose new players to the best that Icehouse gaming has to offer? I certainly do not want this to become a static list, but instead want it to offer the best possible experience for new players, or existing players who want to try out something new. Having judged for some of the previous Icehouse Game Design Competition, and just read through some other games, I can say that there are a lot of badly designed, badly written, or broken Icehouse games out there. Some people put games up without having even playtested them once themselves. Do you want someone to hear about how great Icehouse games are, go to a list of all games, pick one at random, and then be disappointed by a sub-par game?

I've nothing against a "Suggested Games" page on the wiki--perhaps even something with digg-like elements or kudoes or any one of the bajillion web devices for ranking page content. But a title like "Choosing Games" should be about CHOICE, not "gatekeeping" or "qualifying" or "popular".

Sure, then we should have a discussion about the name of this page, and how we can structure the wiki to cater to the needs of different people. Given the tone of your email, I'm a little confused about your objections, though. Are you objecting to keeping a list of good games for new players to try, that includes the best and most popular games categorized nicely? Or are you objecting to having that list be called "Choosing Games"? I'm not attached to the name at all; I had just gotten so many requests from people who wanted to try out Icehouse games but didn't know where to start that I created that page to address the need.

I have to be published to qualify? Fine; I'll start PODing all my games;
and only put cross-links on the wiki, to my Buy It Now site; and then
they ALL will get on that page, right? So long as I am charging for the
game, it can "qualify" as a Choosing Games game? *blech*

This is not meant to be a hard and fast system, and "gaming" the system is explicitly against the spirit of the whole thing. As I mentioned on the wiki talk page, this is a *proposed* set of *guidelines*. Each of those criteria were to be considered as something that would make it fairly likely a game should go on there, but I included a whole paragraph about how other games could be added, just that appropriate judgement should be used.

I started this who thing by suggesting we vamp up the Categories... then that we go all-in with an actual custom database that tells a user EVERY
game he or she could play with a given collection. But I wish I'd kept
my mouth shut, if the whole discussion is going to come full circle
with "resolutions" like:
* We can't make more meaningful Categories; just let users flail about
with vague ones. (FYI, I have discovered that, yes, I can make new
Categories trivially--I did so for Roleplaying Games--so it's only a
matter of combing through obsolete Categories, to relocate games to new

Who said that we can't make categories useful? I think we've got a good start, but there's a lot more work to be done to make them as useful as possible. I've started categorizing the categories themselves (putting all of the 1-player, 2-player, etc categories into the category "Number of players"). I think that if we manage to categorize all of the games appropriately, and categorize the categories, we'll have a good start, though it's not quite the ideal interface for navigating to the games (too many levels of pages that you have to go to to find the games you're looking for; it would be nice if they could all be listed on one page).

* Database integration into a wiki is "impossible" or "too hard" (even
though a wiki IS a database).

I don't think this is impossible, but it may very well be "too hard" for a volunteer effort as small as ours. The problem with any custom modifications like this is that they need to be maintained and upgraded along with the wiki, and things like this tend to get a big burst of energy at the beginning, and then people get busy and aren't able to actually maintain it, which may cause the wiki to break completely when it's updated.

* A game must somehow "qualify" for inclusion on the ONE page that
half-assedly accomplishes database-like sorting.

I have explicitly said, repeatedly, that I would like for there to be two such pages; one that's a good introduction to Icehouse for a new player, and lists only high-quality games with relatively large player bases, and one that lists all Icehouse games ever. The one I care most about at the moment is the one for new players, but I have no problem with someone creating the other page, or trying to get the category system to accomplish it.

I want the wiki to be a powerful, usable tool for new players; I want it
to put all these cool games in folks' faces, so that they go out and
complete their collections; I think the democracy of a wiki makes folks
feel like Looney Labs is an open and liberal company in which they can
directly participate (even though, yes, the wiki is technically

But I am only one voice. Who else feels as I do, and how many of us
"qualify" as a majority vote? See, I think, when you're trying to push
exclusion with regards to ANYTHING regarding Looney Labs... well, I
think *one* NAY vote IS a majority veto.

This isn't something that's up to a majority vote, or anything of the sort. It's a wiki; the point is that anyone can edit any page. I'm offering my suggestions for making it as useful as possible. I created the page to begin with, so I wanted to explain why I created it, and what purpose I thought it should serve. Generally, we try to achieve consensus via discussion, so people won't feel like they don't have a say, but in the end, all that matters is what people actually do on the wiki. So feel free to discuss my proposal; offer a counter proposal, suggest a renaming for the existing page and set up an alternate page that includes everything you want.

I think the best thing to do at this point is for you to create the page that you want, and start a discussion about the naming of the two pages (as I said, I'm not attached to calling the introductory page to the best games "Choosing Games"), as well as which links should be included on the front page and sidebar. Also, I'm going to start doing some work on making the categorizations more useful, and would encourage you to do so as well.