Making and breaking games: a typology of rules


The paper introduces a particular approach to the study of rules. Different aspects of rules are studied: what are their functions, what do rules govern, what is a ruleset, and what are the elements in a game that rules govern. Five elements are discussed: components (pieces/ player characters/etc.), procedures associated with components (moving them or manipulating them in other ways), environments that define the physical boundaries of a game, theme that gives the game a subject matter, and interface which is used to access the game. The author introduces five types of rules, each type relating to a game element. The typology provides a better understanding of rules as a fundamental structure of games, and it can also be applied as a tool for analysing individual games’ structure and ruleset.