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D&D 5E Game theory, D&D, and infinite games

Blue Orange

Adventurer
Older versions of the game had retiring as a feudal lord (0e, 1e) or divine ascension (BECMI, 2e, 3e) as a sort of 'win condition' after which you retired your character.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I didn’t say you weren’t playing a game. I said you weren’t playing that particular game - but instead something similar to it.

So, if you aren't playing chess to win, you're playing some other game - let us call it meta-chess.

What are you playing if you aren't playing chess to win, but also aren't playing meta-chess to win? Meta-meta-chess?

At some point, you have to have a game that doesn't have win conditions, or this becomes meta all the way down, which is ridiculous. Or, we should realize that redefining what the game is isn't helpful, and instead recognize that whehter you're actually playing to rech the win condition, if any, is not definitive.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So, if you aren't playing chess to win, you're playing some other game - let us call it meta-chess.

What are you playing if you aren't playing chess to win, but also aren't playing meta-chess to win? Meta-meta-chess?

At some point, you have to have a game that doesn't have win conditions, or this becomes meta all the way down, which is ridiculous. Or, we should realize that redefining what the game is isn't helpful, and instead recognize that whehter you're actually playing to rech the win condition, if any, is not definitive.
I’m not redefining what game means. I’m simply stating what it does mean.

As an example - in Starcraft back in the day you would often see no rush 10 minutes lobbies. The players agreed to not attack each other for 10 minutes. That’s a different game than normal Starcraft.

how many agreed upon rules changes before it’s a different game? 1 is all it takes.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I’m not redefining what game means. I’m simply stating what it does mean.

As an example - in Starcraft back in the day you would often see no rush 10 minutes lobbies. The players agreed to not attack each other for 10 minutes. That’s a different game than normal Starcraft.

how many agreed upon rules changes before it’s a different game? 1 is all it takes.
Ah, so, there's no such thing as D&D, because everyone's playing different games the moment one thing differs? This isn't a useful framework.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I’m not redefining what game means. I’m simply stating what it does mean.

But, again, if you don't allow for games without win conditions, this becomes infinitely recursive. And if you do allow for them, I'm not sure we need the distinction.

how many agreed upon rules changes before it’s a different game? 1 is all it takes.

I am not sure super-detailed pedantic definitions of what a particualr game is turns out to be useful. This kind of, "you're not playing real X," is generally used to gatekeep in-group and out-group, and I'm not sure you will find it of benefit to go there.
 


clearstream

(He, Him)
I wasn't sure what the "game theory" was that is being referred to in the OP. Some posts - eg referring to the prisoner's dilemma - have made me wonder whether we're meant to be thinking of game theory in that sense.

If so, before we even start talking about single-play vs iterated, and whether the number of iterations is known in advance or is open-ended, where are the pay-off tables? And what preferences are under analysis - just those that are defined by the logic of play (eg a preference to win combats my PC is part of), or all the preferences that a player brings to the table (eg maybe I have a reason to throw the chess game because that way my opponent will buy me lunch)?

Also: it's certainly possible to reason about payoffs in an open-ended series of iterated plays.
The concept in the OP seems to me distinct from game theory. My understanding is that it relates to a theory advanced by a professor of history and literature of religion. My current reading of the OP is that
  1. it advances an ontology: games can be classified into finite and infinite
  2. said classification decides (or is decided by) their inclusion or non-inclusion of end conditions
More generally, it argues that there will be mismatches between players who understand themselves to be in a game where the goal is the continuation of play ('infinite'), and players who understand themselves to be in a game where a goal can be achieved and will end the game when it is achieved ('finite').

The latter type of goal is generally thought of as winning, but the destruction of the game world - with all players losing - would also do. Which scratches the surface of problems that I start to feel are too numerous to get into. Still, I am glad the OP drew attention to this idea.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The idea that for something to be a game requires win conditions is absurd on its face. There’s a raft of games without win conditions.

Catch. Tea Party. House. Tag. Hide and Seek. Truth or Dare. I Spy. Pattycake. The floor is lava. Follow the leader. Keep away. Ding dong ditch. London bridge. Telephone. Jump Rope.

The Dozens is a game. There are no points and you play until the other person quits...then someone else joins. And you play until one quits. Then someone else joins. And you play until someone quits. You repeat this until no one wants to play anymore. Or the streetlights come on and you all run home.

Make Believe is a game. It’s literally what we’re talking about, only we dress it up and make believe it’s not what we’re doing. There are no points or win conditions.

To conclude that a game must have win conditions is to ignore the definition of the word game.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The idea that for something to be a game requires win conditions is absurd on its face. There’s a raft of games without win conditions.

Catch. Tea Party. House. Tag. Hide and Seek. Truth or Dare. I Spy. Pattycake. The floor is lava. Follow the leader. Keep away. Ding dong ditch. London bridge. Telephone. Jump Rope.

The Dozens is a game. There are no points and you play until the other person quits...then someone else joins. And you play until one quits. Then someone else joins. And you play until someone quits. You repeat this until no one wants to play anymore. Or the streetlights come on and you all run home.

Make Believe is a game. It’s literally what we’re talking about, only we dress it up and make believe it’s not what we’re doing. There are no points or win conditions.

To conclude that a game must have win conditions is to ignore the definition of the word game.

It feels like some definitions are so broad as to make any discussion about games in general awfully non-focused...
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i
do TTRPGs fall closer to...

1635179342196.png
 

pemerton

Legend
I have some sympathy for @FrogReaver's claim that there are win conditions that are constitutive of the game of chess.

On the other hand, as per my earlier post, someone can play chess without playing to win (eg I secretly throw the game so my opponent will be more likely to buy me lunch).

The fact that I'm not playing to win doesn't mean I'm playing a different game - if it did, it would be false (contradictory, even) to say that I threw the chess game. And that it is implausible.

The win conditions are constitutive of the activity, but not necessarily of my participation in it. Similarly, a candidate can stand for election - an activity that is constituted, in part, by its orientation towards winning by attracting votes - even if that person doesn't expect or doesn't even want to win, doesn't campaign very hard, etc.

If, by "D&D", we mean a game constituted by use of the D&D PC build and action resolution framework, use of (some fragment of) typical D&D setting elements (MM, traps, etc), then I don't think win conditions are constitutive of the game. But nor is their absence.

A parallel in chess might be playing a recognised, or adequately theorised, opening - one can play chess without doing this (see eg my very amateur chess play) but there is plenty of chess play which has this as an element of it.
 

GreyLord

Legend
Well, yeah, but that's true in any game. You don't get spotted an extra knight in Chess for bringing a snack for the referee.

But experience points are given to the player, not the character. They don't exist within the character's world - no PC or NPC knows what an XP is, or what to do with it.

You are correct...

I expect to get spotted an extra queen for bringing the referee that snack, or, at a minimum, an extra 5 minutes on the clock!

:p
 

Argyle King

Legend
Years ago, I had a communications class (college) about games (as a form of media).

I remember having a class discussion about what makes something a "sport" rather than a "game."

While the discussion itself was interesting and there were a few broad distinctions upon which most members of the class could agree, the borders/edges of game and sport territory were fuzzy.
 



I've no idea who he is, and the page that was linked to looked mighty like a blog to me; so - a blogger. :)
Still no idea? Even now? Invested enough to respond about not knowing who he is but not interested enough for a 10-second Google search to see why someone would bother citing him? Never heard of Ultraviolet Grasslands or Witchburner, I guess?

I've heard there's this whole RPG industry out there, somewhere beyond the Shire...
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Still no idea? Even now? Invested enough to respond about not knowing who he is but not interested enough for a 10-second Google search to see why someone would bother citing him? Never heard of Ultraviolet Grasslands or Witchburner, I guess?

I've heard there's this whole RPG industry out there, somewhere beyond the Shire...
It would take you less time to simply explain who this person is instead of being snide about it. Has the RPG space really reached that level of hipster? But then, this is the internet. No point being on it unless you can be pointlessly rude. I've never heard of the person either. None of what you're vaguely throwing out means anything to me, so...not worth a Google search then.
 


Before now, I didn't have any idea about who that person was either.
He wrote and did all the (really great) illustrations for an OSR point-crawl supplement/setting called Ultraviolet Grasslands


You can get an introduction to the setting for free here

 

Argyle King

Legend
He wrote and did all the (really great) illustrations for an OSR point-crawl supplement/setting called Ultraviolet Grasslands


You can get an introduction to the setting for free here


I learned that after a Google search.

Before being introduced to the name via this thread, I had no idea.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I assume there are a lot of people out there who have published a TTRPG or two or three that aren't particularly widely played?
 

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