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Subject: A Venn diagram to illustrate Abstract Games article on the BGG wiki rss

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Martin G
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Zickzack wrote:
qwertymartin wrote:
Zickzack wrote:
Question: a pack of cards has been shuffled. What is the chance that the topmost is an ace of spades? Answer: barring Schrödinger's cat, it either is an ace of spades or is not. It is not a question of probabilities. However, if the question were what a fair bet would be, 1/52 is the answer.
Go read up on Bayesian statistics!
That is where I got this example. Your point?
My point is that a Bayesian would say that this *is* a question of probabilities, and that the probability in question is 1 in 52. Bayesians define probability as degree of belief, made concrete by the idea of a coherent bet.
 
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Benedikt Rosenau
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qwertymartin wrote:
My point is that a Bayesian would say that this *is* a question of probabilities, and that the probability in question is 1 in 52. Bayesians define probability as degree of belief, made concrete by the idea of a coherent bet.
That is the subjectivist understanding of Bayesian statistics. We can delve deeper into the various interpretation of words among the different faiths or we can understand the example. I have taken my pick.
 
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Philip Shields
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Where would the game "Mastermind" sit in your Venn Diagram?
 
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Philip Shields
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Hide and Seek
Also wondering if / where Hide and Seek would go in your Venn Diagram, thanks??
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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There are far more hairs we can split.

In games with simultaneous action selection, game theory tells us that we should used mixed strategies -- randomly picking our moves according to calculated distributions.

Played by humans, Rock-Paper-Scissors is a game of hidden information, not randomness. With full understanding of your opponent's brain, you will never lose. (With partial understanding you will given non-uniform probabilities to your choices.)

My personal favourite is that real-world cryptographic systems depend on limited computation to simulate randomness, hidden information and simultaneous actions. These techniques could be applied to (tedious) board games.

I think that the most constructive thing to do for the original issue is to provide rubrics to determine the probability that random BGG users will classify a game as abstract. For example, if it only uses cards then people are liable to say that it isn't abstract. (Lots of rules, simulation, multiple players, randomness, non-public information, and so forth would also be included.)
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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Balthazaar wrote:
Also wondering if / where Hide and Seek would go in your Venn Diagram, thanks?? :)

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/23953/outside-scope-bgg
https://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Game_Criteria#
https://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/BGG_Guide_to_Game_Submis...#

Mastermind is more of an activity with a moderator.
 
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Herb
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mlvanbie wrote:
...

Played by humans, Rock-Paper-Scissors is a game of hidden information, not randomness. With full understanding of your opponent's brain, you will never lose. (With partial understanding you will given non-uniform probabilities to your choices.)

...


I don't think that Rock-Paper-Scissors has "hidden information" in the traditional sense. Rather the game has simultaneous moves.
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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herace wrote:
I don't think that Rock-Paper-Scissors has "hidden information" in the traditional sense. Rather the game has simultaneous moves.

You can reveal some of the hidden state of a human using an fMRI machine. Probably also through physical tells. Either way you can predict their actions. Humans are bad at being random, which makes pure randomness a non-optimal strategy if you can model the other person's brain activity.
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Peter S.
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Jeffrey Henning wrote:
Elendil wrote:
I do like the Venn Diagram idea, and think it is helpful, and that you are right that those are three of the main ideas behind what makes something abstract. The only problem is that each of these three categories is itself almost as contentious as the term "abstract" is.
That's definitely a problem in the current conception. To correctly classify a game, you need to remove the subjectivity of these. Something like...

1. Does any random element determine game play (e.g., dice, cards, tiles)?
( ) Yes ( ) No

2. Does any player have access to information about the game state not available to other players (e.g., their own hand of cards or tiles)?
( ) Yes ( ) No

3. Does the game include rules that make the game a more accurate simulation of the theme?
( ) Yes ( ) No

Question 3 needs the most work.

- Jeffrey


On Question 3, my suggestion would be "Does the game seek to evoke a theme during play?" (for reasons I'm happy to discuss at length if requested).
 
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Peter S.
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If we want to get really technical, we could say "Game state is equally observable to all players at all times." (I wanted to say "symmetrical" but it would look arguable that way.)

Player thoughts aren't part of game state, and game state is only incremented as a result of executing player actions.
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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ErsatzDragon wrote:
Player thoughts aren't part of game state, and game state is only incremented as a result of executing player actions.

That's not going to get you very far in Poker or Diplomacy. The question of whether or not Diplomacy is an abstract game, suggests a possible denotational definition:

A game about looking several turns ahead and exploiting patterns in game state is abstract.

Thus Diplomacy is not abstract because it is about player negotiations/betrayals, Poker is about bluffing, war games are about the events being simulated (independent of the nature of their mechanics), Roulette is about luck, etc. The typical abstract game is about placing and/or moving pieces around a board in clever ways.
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Russ Williams
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mlvanbie wrote:
Humans are bad at being random, which makes pure randomness a non-optimal strategy if you can model the other person's brain activity.
FWIW some humans are more competent at it than others.

And there are plenty of observable good sources of entropy around us which a clever player can use, even if a group explicitly disallows e.g. directly rolling a die to determine one's move in a game. E.g. for infrequent random decisions, you can look at a clock and use the current time's number of seconds.


Which is perhaps an interesting tangent; among people I game with, most seem to have no problem with a player making a random decision -- especially since in some situations it's mathematically game-theoretically good play! -- but I've seen some BGG threads where people claim it's somehow "cheating" for a player to make a random decision. E.g. in a game where a player chooses a card from their hand to play, they claim it's cheating if you choose several cards which you think are equally good to play and then shuffle them and choose one.
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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russ wrote:
And there are plenty of observable good sources of entropy around us which a clever player can use, even if a group explicitly disallows e.g. directly rolling a die to determine one's move in a game. E.g. for infrequent random decisions, you can look at a clock and use the current time's number of seconds.

Yes, I heard of Poker players using their watches to randomize. Knowing if someone is doing such a thing is also useful information. Interesting commentary on modeling the minds of players at low-stakes Poker games:

https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showpost.php?p=41304869&p...
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Peter S.
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mlvanbie wrote:
ErsatzDragon wrote:
Player thoughts aren't part of game state, and game state is only incremented as a result of executing player actions.

That's not going to get you very far in Poker or Diplomacy. The question of whether or not Diplomacy is an abstract game, suggests a possible denotational definition:

A game about looking several turns ahead and exploiting patterns in game state is abstract.

Thus Diplomacy is not abstract because it is about player negotiations/betrayals, Poker is about bluffing, war games are about the events being simulated (independent of the nature of their mechanics), Roulette is about luck, etc. The typical abstract game is about placing and/or moving pieces around a board in clever ways.
I'm splitting the hair here between game state and player state, and specifically in relation to the "perfect information" concept.
 
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Joe Joyce
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ErsatzDragon wrote:
Jeffrey Henning wrote:
Elendil wrote:
I do like the Venn Diagram idea, and think it is helpful, and that you are right that those are three of the main ideas behind what makes something abstract. The only problem is that each of these three categories is itself almost as contentious as the term "abstract" is.
That's definitely a problem in the current conception. To correctly classify a game, you need to remove the subjectivity of these. Something like...

1. Does any random element determine game play (e.g., dice, cards, tiles)?
( ) Yes ( ) No

2. Does any player have access to information about the game state not available to other players (e.g., their own hand of cards or tiles)?
( ) Yes ( ) No

3. Does the game include rules that make the game a more accurate simulation of the theme?
( ) Yes ( ) No

Question 3 needs the most work.

- Jeffrey
On Question 3, my suggestion would be "Does the game seek to evoke a theme during play?" (for reasons I'm happy to discuss at length if requested).
This is a question I'm interested in, but I suspect few others would be. For that reason, I'll briefly state my 'argument' here, and suggest a new thread unless it's important this aspect is included here in the Venn diagram thread.

The games we play are 'about' something; they have a goal, a winning condition. Some games unavoidably evoke specific concepts. The connection between chess and wargames is well established both conceptually and by documentation. So I'd turn the question around and ask if the rule in question makes the game a better game. If it does, and does so in an appropriately deterministic way, then what difference does it make if the rule is also 'chrome', deliberately evoking the theme?
 
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christian freeling
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joejoyce wrote:
ErsatzDragon wrote:
Jeffrey Henning wrote:
Elendil wrote:
I do like the Venn Diagram idea, and think it is helpful, and that you are right that those are three of the main ideas behind what makes something abstract. The only problem is that each of these three categories is itself almost as contentious as the term "abstract" is.
That's definitely a problem in the current conception. To correctly classify a game, you need to remove the subjectivity of these. Something like...

3. Does the game include rules that make the game a more accurate simulation of the theme?
( ) Yes ( ) No
On Question 3, my suggestion would be "Does the game seek to evoke a theme during play?" (for reasons I'm happy to discuss at length if requested).
This is a question I'm interested in, but I suspect few others would be. For that reason, I'll briefly state my 'argument' here, and suggest a new thread unless it's important this aspect is included here in the Venn diagram thread.

The games we play are 'about' something; they have a goal, a winning condition. Some games unavoidably evoke specific concepts. The connection between chess and wargames is well established both conceptually and by documentation. So I'd turn the question around and ask if the rule in question makes the game a better game. If it does, and does so in an appropriately deterministic way, then what difference does it make if the rule is also 'chrome', deliberately evoking the theme?
It struck me that if I alter one letter in ErsatzDragon's comment it would be closer to how I feel about it:
Quote:
"Does the game seem to evoke a theme during play?"
Making a rule to paste on or build in a theme might well violate the game itself in some way (although not necessarily commercially), but if the rules inherently suggest a theme, I don't see why not.
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Joe Joyce
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christianF wrote:
It struck me that if I alter one letter in ErsatzDragon's comment it would be closer to how I feel about it:
Quote:
"Does the game seem to evoke a theme during play?"
Making a rule to paste on or build in a theme might well violate the game itself in some way (although not necessarily commercially), but if the rules inherently suggest a theme, I don't see why not.
Imagine a resource allocation game played on a square grid where players compete to make the best/biggest/most successful allocation of resources. Each square has specific resource needs printed inside it. Given resources are entered and travel along grid lines until they get to their destination squares, where they enter the square and get placed on their respective names. Each resource has a name and an encumbrance value. Each player gets a specific number of 'bundles' into which to place resources. Each bundle gets a maximum contained encumbrance number and a specified number of action points per turn. Players sit on opposite sides of the grid and organize their first bundles to start. Add a few rules on how to block access to a square or block a grid line or intersection for the other side but not yours, and you've got a game that I've described as abstractly as possible. Does it suggest a theme?

How about if I name it 'Blue versus Brown: the delivery wars'? It's still a game about the Salesman's Dilemma, how to create the shortest, most effective routes to specific locations on a map. So can it have another theme that is suggested by gameplay? 'Mobile Vendor of the Month' comes to mind, but not 'Football Hero' or 'Medal of Valor'. 'Merchants and Pirates of the Archipelago' is about as far as I can get from 'draw the shortest map route that includes all necessary destination points', which somehow doesn't sound quite as much fun. Maybe the futuristic "Meadowvale Enclave: Tail Gunner on the Grocery Run"... ;)

Even 'Mobile Vendor of the Month' sounds like more fun than 'draw the shortest map route...' Okay, not all that much more fun. The 2 things worth thinking about are that at least some abstract games can be seen to have a specific or general theme by many/most players, and that an appropriate and interesting theme can add to the 'value' of the gameplay.
 
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