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Fichamento: "The Art of Computer Game Design" Capítulo 3

Livro: "The Art of Computer Game Design"

Autores: Chris Crawford

Editora: McGraw-Hill/Osborne Media

Capítulo: "A Taxonomy of Computer Games"

Link Oficial: https://web.archive.org/web/20050828212401/https://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/fac/peabody/game-book/Coverpage.html

PDF Grifado:

Art of Computer Game Design
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"Given this large sample of games, we can learn a great deal about game design by establishing a taxonomy of computer games. A taxonomy would illuminate the common factors that link families of games, while revealing critical differences between families and between members of families." (pg. 23)

"A well-constructed taxonomy will often suggest previously unexplored areas of game design. Most important, a taxonomy reveals underlying principles of game design." (pg. 23)

"I will insist on an important qualification: I do not claim that the taxonomy I propose is the correct one, nor will I accept the claim that any correct taxonomy can be formulated. A taxonomy is only a way of organizing a large number of related objects." (pg. 23)

"I divide computer games into two broad categories: skill-and-action ("S&A") games (emphasizing perceptual and motor skills) and strategy games (emphasizing cognitive effort). Each major category has several subcategories." (pg. 24)


"This is easily the largest and most popular class of computer games. Indeed, most people associate all computer games with skill-and-action games. All arcade games are S&A games and almost all games for the ATARI 2600 are S&A games. This class of games is characterized by real-time play, heavy emphasis on graphics and sound, and use of joysticks or paddles rather than a keyboard. The primary skills demanded of the player are hand-eye coordination and fast reaction time. I group skill-and-action games into six categories: combat games, maze games, sports games, paddle games, race games, and miscellaneous games." (pg. 24)

Combat Games

"Combat games all present a direct, violent confrontation. The human player must shoot and destroy the bad guys controlled by the computer. The challenge is to position oneself properly to avoid being hit by the enemy while shooting him." (pg. 24)

"Combat games have always been at the heart of computer gaming. Players never seem to tire of them; it appears that they will be around for a long time to come." (pg. 29)

Maze Games

"The second subgrouping of S&A games is the set of maze games. PAC-MAN (trademark of Namco) is the most successful of these, although maze games predate PAC-MAN. The defining characteristic of the maze games is the maze of paths through which the player must move." (pg. 29)

"Sometimes one or more bad guys pursue the player through the maze. Some maze games (MAZE CRAZE for the ATARI 2600 is a good example) specifically require that the player make his way to an exit. Other maze games require that the player move through each part of the maze. DODGE 'EM is an early example of such a game. In either case, the number, speed, and intelligence of the pursuers then determines the pace and difficulty of the game. PAC-MAN has a very carefully balanced combination of these factors. The pursuers are just slightly slower than the human player; their intelligence and number make up for this. The overall pace of the game makes it difficult for the player to fully analyze the positions of the five pieces in real time." (pg. 30)

"The appeal of maze games can be attributed to the cleanliness with which they encapsulate the branching structure that is a fundamental aspect of all games. The reader will remember from Chapter One that a game has a tree structure with each branch point representing a decision made by the player. In a maze game, each branch point is neatly depicted by an intersection in the maze, and the options available to the player are visually presented as the paths available at the intersection. Thus, a maze game presents a clear visual representation of the branching structure of the game. Even more fascinating is the looping structure possible with maze games. A player can return to an intersection in the maze many times. Yet, each time he does so, the options he has take different meanings because the other maze-inhabitants have moved in the interim to a different pattern of positions. In this way, a small number of displayed intersections can represent a huge number of branch-points in the game-tree. The analogy with a computer program, in which a small number of program instructions, through looping and branching, can address a large number of specific cases, is striking." (pg. 30)

Sports Games

"These games model popular sports games. They are anachronisms derived from the early days of computer game design when computer games had no identity of their own. People without original ideas for games fell back on the sports games as models around which to design. This also served a useful marketing purpose: why would a conservative consumer buy a game with a title and subject completely alien to his experience?" (pg. 31)

Paddle Games

"I use the title "Paddle Games" to cover the PONG-based games. PONG is certainly one of the most successful and fertile of game designs, for it has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The central element of the game, that of intercepting a projectile with a paddle-controlled piece, has been used in endless variations." (pg. 31)

Race Games

"Some computer games involve a straightforward race. Most of these games allow the player to move at constant speed, but extract time penalties for failure to skillfully negotiate an assortment of hazards." (pg. 32)

Miscellaneous Games

"My taxonomy is flawed; there exist a number of games that do not fit into this taxonomy very well. The first I will mention is DONKEY KONG, (trademark of Nintendo) a game that looks vaguely like a race game with intelligent obstacles. FROGGER (trademark of ________) is another game that defies classification in this taxonomy. It could perhaps be called a maze game with moving walls or obstacles, but the fit is poor. APPLE PANIC by Broderbund Software also defies my taxonomy. In some ways it is like a maze game and in some ways it is a combat game. The pace of the game is oddly slow. I don’t know what to call this game. The fact that these games do not fit my taxonomy does not bother me overly much; I certainly don’t want to create ad hoc categories for individual games. I am content to wait and see other developments before I create new categories or revise old ones." (pg. 33)

Strategy Games

"These games emphasize cogitation rather than manipulation. I do not mean to imply that S&A games are devoid of strategic content; some S&A games do indeed have a strategic element. The major distinguishing factor between strategy games and S&A games is the emphasis on motor skills. All skill-and-action games require some motor skills; strategy games do not." (pg. 33)


"In these games the adventurer must move through a complex world, accumulating tools and booty adequate for overcoming each obstacle, until finally the adventurer reaches the treasure or goal." (pg. 33)

"Adventures are closer to puzzles than to games. As discussed in Chapter One, puzzles are distinguished from games by the static nature of the obstacles they present to the player. Adventures present intricate obstacles that, once cracked, no longer provide challenge to the player. It is true that some adventures push closer to being games by incorporating obstacles such as hungry dragons that in some way react to the player. Nevertheless, they remain primarily puzzles." (pg. 34)

D&D Games

"A completely independent thread of development comes from the D&D style games. Fantasy role-playing was created by Gary Gygax with Dungeons and Dragons (trademark of TSR Hobbles), a complex noncomputer game of exploration, cooperation, and conflict set in a fairytale world of castles, dragons, sorcerers, and dwarves. in D&D, a group of players under the guidance of a "dungeonmaster" sets out to gather treasure. The game is played with a minimum of hardware; players gather around a table and use little more than a pad of paper. The dungeonmaster applies the rules of the game structure and referees the game. The dungeonmaster has authority to adjudicate all events; this allows very complex systems to be created without the frustrations of complex rules. The atmosphere is quite loose and informal. For these reasons, D&D has become a popular game, with endless variations and derivatives." (pg. 34)


"A third class of strategy games is provided by the wargames. Noncomputer wargames as a gaming form have a long heritage. Commercial wargaming goes all the way back to the 1880’s with an American wargame design using wooden blocks. The British have long had a dedicated group of wargamers using miniature models of soldiers and very complex rules. Their games, called miniatures games, have grown in popularity and are now played in the USA. But the largest segment of wargamers in recent years has been the boardgamers. This hobby was founded in the late 1950’s by Charles Roberts, who founded the Avalon-Hill Game Company and created such classic games of the 60’s as BLITZKRIEG, WATERLOO, and AFRIKA KORPS (all trademarks of the Avalon-Hill Game Company). During the 1970’s a new company, Simulations Publications, Inc., turned board wargaming into the largest segment of wargaming." (pg. 35)

"The computer wargames available now fall into two distinct groups. The first group is composed of direct conversions of conventional boardgames. COMPUTER BISMARK, COMPUTER AMBUSH, and COMPUTER NAPOLEONICS (trademarks of Strategic Simulations, Inc.) are examples of this group of games. These games illustrate the folly of direct conversion of games of one form to another. They parrot successful and respected boardgames, but are themselves not as successful. Because they attempt to replicate boardgames, they are, like boardgames, slow and clumsy to play. The second group of computer wargames are less slavish in their copying of board wargames. My own EASTERN FRONT 1941 is generally considered to be the best of this lot, primarily because of its graphics and human engineering features." (pg. 35)

Games of Chance

"Games of chance have been played for thousands of years; their implementation onto computers is therefore quite expectable. They are quite easy to program, so we have seen many versions of craps, blackjack, and other such games." (pg 36)

Educational and Children’s Games

"The fifth category of strategy games is that of the educational games. Although all games are in some way educational, the games in this set are designed with explicit educational goals in mind." (pg. 37)

Interpersonal Games

"I have been exploring a class of games that focus on the relationships between individuals or groups. One such game explores gossip groups. The player exchanges gossip with up to seven other computer-controlled players. The topic of conversation is always feelings, positive or negative, expressed by one person for another. Adroit posturing increases popularity. Similar games could address corporate politics, soap-opera situations, gothic romances, international diplomacy, and espionage." (pg. 37)


"This concludes the description of my proposed taxonomy. Obviously, this taxonomy has many flaws. This is primarily because the basis of division is not any grand principle but is instead historical happenstance. There is no fundamental reason why wargames should be treated any differently than D&D games. Yet, both game systems evolved separately and are historically quite distinct. Similarly, the creation of an educational games category is my response to the efforts of educators to create educational games. With the passage of time, market forces will assert themselves, and a more organized and consistent taxonomy will become possible. People have tried to create educational games, so we now have them. My taxonomy is a patchwork because the set of available computer games is a patchwork. 

This taxonomy suggests a number of observations about the state of game design with computers. For example, it should be obvious that there are very few basic scenarios for skill-and-action games, each scenario taking one category. The archetypical game in each category spawned a whole family of imitators, variations, and improvements. Moreover, the archetypical game in each category was seldom the big moneymaker; instead, the archetypical game was followed by several successor games that improved on it until one game hit the nail on the head. Thus we have COMBAT leading to SPACE INVADERS in the combat category, DODGE 'EM leading to PAC-MAN in the maze category, and PONG leading to SUPERBREAKOUT in the paddle category." (pg. 37)

"A taxonomy reflects the body of material it attempts to organize. The state of computer game design is changing quickly. We would therefore expect the taxonomy presented here to become obsolete or inadequate in a short time. New taxonomies must be created to reflect the changes in the marketplace in the next few years. For the present, however, the proposed taxonomy can provide us with an organized way to view the menagerie of games while suggesting new areas to explore." (pg. 38)

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