The Vote Isn’t Interested in Compromises
It isn’t possible to discuss Tom Russell’s The Vote without invoking her earlier design This Guilty Land. In part because they both make use of the same game system, a masterclass of functionality that demands periodic trips back to the rulebook, though in fairness this year’s outing putters along more smoothly, less opaquely, and buoyed by a tighter narrative arc.
If only the similarities stopped there. Instead, the lion’s share are more thematic, and by extension more somber. This Guilty Land was designed to evoke frustration. With its systems, yes, but also with the injustices permitted by those systems — and worse, enabled by them. Features rather than bugs. In Russell’s hands, the gridlock that prevented emancipation is the same gridlock that prevented women’s suffrage. Which is a long way of saying that The Vote is a streamlined and more playable version of its former self. But as a metatextual continuation of This Guilty Land, it’s far more than that.
As I wrote in my review of This Guilty Land, it’s easiest to think of The Vote — and Russell’s entire model of American politics — as being about political dysfunction in action. The details may have changed, the struggle may have moved from one issue to another, but the dysfunction is as stubborn as ever.
This time around, players are tasked with controlling either Supremacy or Equality. The goal is to swing hearts and minds from the first view to the second. The adherents of these perspectives are represented by symbols, the hoary old star for those who believe things are fine as they are, and the blooming sunflower, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s pen-name and the eventual symbol for the entire National American Woman Suffrage Association, standing in for Equality. As in Russell’s previous outing, there’s a third faction to consider. The complacent middle, leaning toward one side or another but still unlikely to contribute to anything other than the status quo. It’s Equality’s task to swing voters to their way of thinking, pass local laws to get their foot in the door of Congress, and ultimately pass Constitutional Amendments that will permit women to vote forevermore.
Meanwhile, Supremacy’s goal is to dither.
The improvements over This Guilty Land are significant. The most obvious is that populations are represented by smaller numbers of tokens, which swaps the previous game’s sprawl for greater legibility. Change previously came as clusters of tokens swapped for other clusters, the slow pace of change only apparent in fragments. Let no one say that crisp design and comprehensible integers aren’t worth the effort. In The Vote, the most populous region, the Midwest, starts with only eight tokens. The smallest, only five. When a card sways public opinion, the transformation is consequential in a way that previously evaded Russell.
This legibility informs the entire design. As the populations of America’s six regions vacillate between extremes, both sides are more readily able to evaluate their needs. Where they are momentarily secure, which region requires additional pressure, when a vote might be managed or voter suppression leveraged to halt it. There are too many subtleties to name them all, but two stand out. First, every action incites one’s opposition. Political will is expended to take actions, but in turn awards political will to the opposing side, creating a two-way economy that thrives on conflict. A few editorials swing voters to Equality’s way of thinking, only for them to backslide when Supremacy reminds the country of the necessity of a woman’s career. A career in the kitchen and the bedroom, in case it wasn’t obvious. Equality will eventually manage to secure enough voters to allow for the passing of a law. Municipal elections, perhaps, or direct election of senators — only for gerrymandering and other dirty tricks to suppress their chances of passing, at least for the moment. Two steps forward, one and a half steps back. Progress, but one that’s now mired in a sucking mud that drags at the heels.
This slow shuffle can be accelerated in small ways. This second subtlety is perhaps the game’s most interesting, those moments of alignment when the right cards are on offer, enough political will has accumulated, and particular actions can be taken in rapid succession. Voters are swayed, rivals are demoralized, and a law is passed, all at once! Such moments are worthy of celebration, even if Supremacy retains the ability to have the Supreme Court strike down anything that hasn’t been writ into the nation’s holy book. Two steps forward, three steps back.
The irony of this process isn’t that it’s a trudge through cold molasses. That’s to be expected, both from The Vote’s ancestry and its agitprop heritage. The system it asks you to engage with is deliberately frustrating. There are little rules aplenty, and actions that don’t make much immediate sense, and some avenues that don’t seem worth traveling even once their value has become clear. I suspect, given the game’s authorship, that such things are On Purpose, or at least so entangled with those that weren’t on purpose that the difference between deliberate design decisions and missteps proves difficult to hack apart. To give one example, region cards are inflexible enough that they often serve only to jam up one’s card display. When a game is meant to be deeply unpleasant, even frustrating, is it a fair complaint that its systems grind against one another?
But again, that isn’t the principal irony. Rather, it’s that all the dynamism, all the excitement, even, to use a swear word, all the fun, is reserved for Equality. Even when suffrage is staggering imperfectly toward the dawn, backsliding and getting stuck and being subjected to any number of delays, at least something is happening. A destination is being approached. Something is in the process of being birthed into the world.
By contrast, Supremacy is simply dull. Where Equality is about swimming for distant shores, Supremacy treads water. Its function is never to gain anything, merely to block, to hamper, to undo. And even then, to undo imperfectly. Once bloomed to their sunflower side, the tokens on the board are effectively untouchable. There’s no retracting the blossom to the planted seed, let alone scooping it from the soil and returning it to the store. At best, Supremacy hopes to earn a particular quantity of points before Equality passes the 17th and 19th Amendments and earns the necessary points of their own. This often demands that Supremacy effectively pass their turns to enact federal laws, doing nothing with their political will except earning trickles of points. As with the game’s other elements, it’s hard to gauge whether this is also On Purpose. Even This Guilty Land gave its antagonists some bearing on the country’s legislative future beyond mere obstruction.
Then again, it seems appropriate that the opponents to suffrage are given less to do. Their task, after all, is a dour one. They have no aims of their own. Only the fear that permitting someone else to blossom into a truer self will somehow steal something from them, that reality is as zero-sum as the exchange of red tokens for blue, stars for sunflowers. Tom Russell recently came out as a trans woman, and I can’t help but wonder if her emergence is imprinted on The Vote, as all acts of creation must be stamped by their creators. That this is a shout of rage, that one must be trapped in the process of becoming, never wholly arriving, in part because of systems and individuals who must be joyless and barren, for their acts are acts of deprivation only, not acts of growing into oneself.
Whether this is a deliberate statement or one I’ve read into the game, I can’t decide. Either way, it’s the reason I advocate participants try their hands at both sides, no matter how distasteful. For all the exasperation it piles onto the side of Equality, this burden pales in comparison to the impotence it assigns to Supremacy. As a plaything, it suffers from such a profound imbalance of things to do. As a statement, as metatext on the static nature of oppression and the dynamism of activism, as despair, as hope, The Vote is stronger for it.
(If what I’m doing at Space-Biff! is valuable to you in some way, please consider dropping by my Patreon campaign or Ko-fi.)
A complimentary copy was provided.
Posted on December 24, 2020, in Board Game and tagged Board Games, Hollandspiele, The Vote, Tom Russell. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.
“This time around, players are tasked with controlling either Supremacy or Equality.”
Oddly enough, that makes me snicker a lot less.
Found Oppression and Justice too on-the-nose?
Very. We’ve talked about it before even.
Ack! Forgive my forgetfulness!
The top illustration confused me. It looks so Prince Valiant that I at first didn’t understand what that had to do with suffragettes.
If I had the time and money, games like this one would find a place in my collection. In a pre-apocalyptic world full of silliness, efforts to produce games on real matters are important. Since I haven’t played the game I cannot tell, but to single out one equality, voting, also suggest in my view, a recognition of the later failures. These early days suffragettes have been betrayed, since the equality they fought for became diluted and eventually lost ground. Equal salaries are still rare, even in the most equal societies.
I love both the idea of games on these topics, but the idea that each player plays some embodied abstract principle seems vastly inappropriate. Either make it a single player game or lay out the complexities of the issues and the people involved on all sides.
I have not played or own either of these games yet, but I have always enjoyed Tom’s designs and choices.
We need more experiments and designers challenging us.
The anti-suffragists were not “against” women, at least in their own minds, but protecting home and hearth. There was also a complicated relationship with the African American civil rights movement (as the birth of both groups were entwined with the rise the Abolitionists), The Temperance movement was a huge factor (and, arguably an easier game to build) as the Railroads and Alcohol industries were afraid of Suffrage from the perspective of an economic threat (correctly) as were other Industrialists (worker safety / cost). It was interesting, and somewhat surprising some of the states that did not support Suffrage.
It seems that “The Cost” is on a better track for design of these games exploring more complicated issues going forward. Lives lost, Opportunities denied…. can be tracked, but the value and their consequence is left to the players to discuss and decide for themselves.
More games like this! We need them to keep the world of games moving forward.
I’d take “The Vote” any day over a game on the Coal Industry that ignores Black Lung and battling with early Unions.
What we choose to include an exclude from our designs is a choice that matters – and says something about us as players and designers.
As a long time wargamer, I have more and more questions about games on the US Civil War which seems to create an equivalence for both sides and that it was a “War Between the States”, not against slavery (a narrative intentionally constructed by the Daughters of the Confederacy and other groups).
Mark Hermann’s decision balance mechanism in Churchill, Tom’s games, The Cost…we are at a great time for exploring new game design ideas, themes and topics.
Thank you Dan and Tom! Let’s have a better 2021.
“I love both the idea of games on these topics, but the idea that each player plays some embodied abstract principle seems vastly inappropriate. Either make it a single player game or lay out the complexities of the issues and the people involved on all sides.”
The meaning in these games isn’t intended to be created by identification with the various actors as in many games, but by observation of a model. The model seeks to literalize systemic oppression (and opposition to the same), and to demonstrate how these systems entrench oppression and stymie progress. I’ve often said that in This Guilty Land, the source of meaning isn’t that you learned this thing by playing Justice or that thing by playing Oppression, but rather that by observing the interaction between the two, and particularly observing how the non-player faction Compromise operates, you’ll have space to ask yourself questions about your complicity in oppression ongoing today. These are questions that don’t have answers, or rather, they are at any rate intensely personal answers.
Folks often mistake the surface didacticism these games embrace as a distancing effect as moral simplicity: that the point of This Guilty Land, for example, is that “slavery is bad”, or the point of The Vote is “voting rights are vital in a democracy”. While both of these things are cleanly and clearly stated at the outset, the games aren’t really about proving either of those statements, or “understanding the arguments” of the other side of the debate, but rather, about explaining *why* there was a debate at all, and the systemic nature of these conflicts. And getting into those elements, the argument becomes quite a bit more nuanced and sticky — hence the whole Compromise thing.
One thing that wasn’t highlighted as much in Dan’s review is that the game isn’t narrowly focused on woman’s suffrage; parallel to this struggle, Supremacy is also laying the foundations of Jim Crow. Those foundations cannot be challenged or torn down by Equality, and even when Equality wins, those horrors are still present – intended as a somber reminder of the limited & incomplete nature of the movement’s “victory”, as well as their betrayal of Black Americans. Many of the other things you mentioned are slightly outside of the scope of the model, but this intersection is a central part of the game’s thesis, this contrasting of the triumph of woman’s suffrage – essentially, of white women’s suffrage – and the heinous systemic human rights abuses perpetrated in the deep south, to try and create an irresolvable disquiet.
And yes, the anti-suffrage movement did not see itself as anti-woman — most of the most strident voices against suffrage were themselves women, who in protecting traditional values and “home and hearth” were of course in reality protecting their own relative privilege within a white supremacist patriarchy. I take particular pains to highlight this in my choice of Public Opinion cards, which emphasize the voices of women who spoke against progress and for complacency.
So, given the nature of the game, its argument, and its sources of meaning, I’m going of course to disagree strongly that it’s “vastly inappropriate” to make it a two-player game with a high degree of abstraction. To each their own of course.
A fine review to end the year. I blogged a very little bit about this game but haven’t played it yet. I have two (long, sorry) questions for you as a historian.
My impression from what Tom has said about the game is that there is, by design, a retrojection of the critical theory into the game’s world. Change “retroject” if that sounds distractingly pejorative, but the point is that to me, the design is using the past to make a point about the present, but perhaps in so doing also imposing concepts and categories that don’t map on to the ways that the principal actors in the setting actually would have thought. My first question is whether you think, having actually played, that this characterization is fair/accurate.
For my second question, even if the answer to the first question is “no”, imagine, then, that we’re talking about some other historical game that /does/ do this. My second question, then, is what you as a historian make of such an approach to a historical subject.
As a non-historian, I feel like I could make both a positive and a negative case for this. The positive case would entail arguing that there is no neutral take on history; everyone has a bias, everyone has an interpretive lens. And so, the work of the historian (be it writer, game designer, moviemaker, whatever) is always about the present reality in which that creator is situated. My movie about feudal Japan isn’t really about feudal Japan at all; ultimately it’s about /me/, what I think about the world, what I’m trying to say, and what I think this particular story set in Japan says about the world as I see it. Viewed this way, inserting yourself and your own views into the history is unavoidable, and might even be noble, might even be the entire point of historical work. (This is how the ancients felt, of course, so it’s not exactly a new view)
A negative case would be to say that such an approach is unsound because history’s primary concern should be understanding. What happened, why did it happen? Yes, interpretation is inescapable, but the actors in the drama have to be interpreted in terms and categories that they would have understood. We all think slavery is bad now, but the southern slaveowners /and non-slaveowners/ thought it was fine or even good, and in their place we would have likely thought the same thing. So to create a polemical work in which we condemn slavery (e.g. “12 Years a Slave”, great film) is a lay-up, but we can’t really understand slavery until we understand the pro-slavery mind (e.g. a book I quite like “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis” by Mark Noll). Thus our goal in looking at the past should be to remain neutral and objective, or at least avoid inserting present day ideas and opinions into historical eras.
At about the time I heard about The Vote, I had just watched Suffragette, and came up with a game idea, a 2p co-op game where we’re on the same side of The Cause, but one of us favors violent means and the other peaceful. So, Malcolm X and King, Magneto and Xavier, whatever. The Cause is abstract, it’s more an exploration of the interplay between two people who want the same thing but have wildly different beliefs about how to achieve it. I wonder if it actually wants to be an RPG not a board game.
But anyway the reason I bring it up here is that in abstracting the game from a particular historical episode, and in taking a neutral view of the situation, it is deliberately NOT making a statement. If I were to insert a statement of my own views into the game, it would be “bomb-throwing is bad”, because I do not approve of violent methods of achieving social aims. But I think the game will be more interesting (to me) as an exploration of this dynamic than a statement about the past or the present. I think and hope it will lead people to engage and think about stuff but it’s not leading them to any particular conclusion. But based on the above thoughts I don’t know if this is a better approach, a worse approach, or just a different approach from a “retrojection” approach. I think maybe it’s just different.
Every cultural artifact that engages with history is about two times: the time it engages with, and the time in which it is made.
It is absolutely true that there were people in the south who felt that slavery was “good”, just as it’s true that today there are people who feel that homosexuality is “bad”. Both of these groups are wrong. There were people living in both times who knew/know that it was wrong, and said/say so. The arguments made by the side that was wrong are transparently bad, ignorant, and inhumane. Neutrality in the face of oppression only helps that oppression to endure.
Sure, but my question is, on balance, which is a given work /more/ about, the present or the past? Which should it be more about? Or does it vary by work and by authorial intent?
Let me abstract this from moral issues for a moment to more clearly illustrate what I’m getting at. As I think I mentioned to you at one time in the past, one of my very favorite books is The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood. Everyone nowadays thinks the 30 Years War was pointless, and Wedgwood says in the preface that she thought that herself. But her book isn’t an explication of the pointlessness of the war, how stupid the whole thing was; rather it’s a walk through a coherent narrative of the principal players in the war, what were their actions and what motivated those actions, and what were the consequences of those actions. Of course, she passes judgment: John George was too passive, Maximilian too self-interested, to stop the war when they could have. But overall you aren’t beaten over the head with the conclusion she assumes at the outset, you’re led to decide for yourself whether the war was worth what it cost, by evaluating the war from the viewpoint of those who prosecuted it.
Now, that’s one kind of historical method. Certainly another is historical analysis, one where you have a thesis and argue for that thesis, not so much telling the story as emphasizing the aspects of the story that support your thesis.
And my question was really whether one or the other of these is considered preferable among the professional historian set. I myself see advantages and disadvantages to each but am interested to hear what professionals think.
Good question, Jeff. The question of presentism is ubiquitous enough both in game criticism and my day job that it’s something I keep thinking I ought to write an article about. This isn’t to say I’m reducing your question to presentism alone, just that it’s a useful shorthand for the issue at large.
I’ll first try to answer your question from the “professional” standpoint. As Tom mentioned below, one of the first things incoming grad students learn is that every time you read a historical account, you’re really reading two histories: the history the author is talking about and the history of the author themself. Sometimes that distinction is small, other times it’s massive. But in either case it’s significant enough that some historians have carved out niches for themselves by examining the history of the author’s period as betrayed by how they wrote about the past. Studying the Renaissance via how they wrote about the Classics, for example, or studying more recent history via how we write about the Renaissance.
In that same course, grad students also survey a wide range of historical methods and lenses. Certain historiographical methods are very “present” in their way of thinking. One extreme example is Marxist history, which regards everything through the lens of Marx’s variant of praxis. The results are often cartoonishly awkward, plainly talking about modern social movements rather than resembling anything history’s actors would have considered. Another approach, the investigation of queer history, also tends to project ideals backward, although queer historians have come a long way toward examining past attitudes toward sexuality rather than informing them. The difference between these two methods is generally considered to be their dedication to uncovering a period’s paradigm. Marxist historians often tend to disregard past paradigms in order to support modern theories. Queer historians, on the other hand, talk more frankly about particular approaches to sexuality being marginalized, taboo, or simply beyond the frame of the period’s sense of self.
But here’s the twist! The irony of presentism is that an enormous body of our culture’s historical work is based on the history of the past two to three centuries, including their own issues with presentism.
I’ll give an example from my own subculture. Mormonism has a complicated background with race, including a possible reference to Christopher Columbus in the Book of Mormon. Many Mormons default to the simplest explanation: that the figure mentioned is in fact Columbus, that he was therefore inspired by God to journey to the New World in order to access the Promised Land for white folk, and that American Indians basically deserve their fate because they had inherited the sins of n-great-grandparents. A vague statement becomes ex post facto justification for genocide and sweeping theories about race, to such a degree that people forget that Columbus wasn’t always a hallowed historical figure, including in his own day. The presentism of last century becomes the accepted history of today.
(I really do want to write more about this, so I’m rounding out some of the discussion’s more distressing particulars.)
Like those various historiographical methods, I tend to regard games as having free rein to use different methods when engaging with their topics. Tom’s games in question tend to emphasize models of oppression while abstracting their actors as bound to those models rather than delving into the exact acts they undertook as individuals. Another game, such as The Cost, might afford the player more latitude as an individual laboring within a system. Your own proposed game about suffrage would be fascinating, and strikes me as a legitimate expression of a complicated history. I hope you design it, if only so I can examine it.
What always makes me chuckle a bit, though, is that the examples given by those who decry presentism in game design — and Jeff, I’m not placing this at your feet by any means — are so rarely about real presentism. Depicting Jesus as anti-slavery would be presentism, because opposition to slavery was an entirely different thing in the year 30. Depicting abolitionists operating at a time when abolition movements were gaining traction is, well, history. Even when that model is simplified, streamlined, or abstracted, we’re seeing game designers laboring within a paradigm, not beyond it.
In other words, it’s complicated. And honestly, I think there’s room for both models, as long as they’re trying to engage with the history rather than presenting a simplified (and likely bleached) version as absolute fact.
Thanks Dan, this is certainly interesting and informative.
I wonder also if there’s a difference when a historical work or critique is performed from the perspective of a different stage in a particular movement, e.g. a modern Mormon critiquing the Young era of Mormonism; there’s some ideological continuity but there’s also the possibility of eliding the discontinuities that may be present by saying “well we’re all part of the same movement after all”. c.f. my comments about early Christianity and “Constantinism” in your review of The Mission.
Here, the verbiage from what Tom has written about the game definitely feels very Third Wave Feminist in its sensibilities, but my understanding is that Second Wave and Third Wave feminists are barely on speaking terms so I can only imagine the chasm that would separate first and third wave feminists, if any first wavers were still around. It’s of course fine for a later stage of a movement to look back retrospectively on an early stage of that movement (although what I personally think is more interesting and revealing is to contemplate what the first wave would make of the third wave!), but my concern about retrojection was with the assumption that the goals of the third wave were necessarily the goals of the first wave, or that they should have been.
I appreciate your encouraging words about The Cause. Knowing someone out there might be interested to play it some day is certainly a good inducement to want to work on it! I’m not aware of any co-ops where we’re not actually working together but I think I see how to do it. The key is that if we fully cooperate, we are too inefficient and will lose; one of us MUST wrest control of the Cause from the other. I don’t think that’s a terrible model, historically speaking, but I admit my focus and interest are more on the gameplay dynamics this would create. Should be a weird one, we’ll see what comes of it!
Jeff: I mean, yes, my perspective could be seen as third-wave feminist and inter-sectional, in that first-wave feminists would almost certainly work against my interests as a trans woman, and more generally, did work against the interests of non-white (especially Black) women and queer women. I absolutely recognize that they did not have the same goals, priorities, or values — and my game is a criticism of that? Particularly of the conscious abandonment – the purposeful betrayal – of Black Americans and other minorities, especially given the movement’s roots in abolition. That’s not a “retrojection”, it’s looking at the history with a critical eye and acknowledging both the shortcomings and the triumphs of the movement, its achievements and its compromises.
I mean, honestly, sincerely, I literally and truly don’t know what the fuck you’re on about.
You are one of my favorite game designers and developers who runs one of my favorite game companies, so I wouldn’t want to do anything to deter you from ANY game design.
You”ve been one of my inspirations as to how to start and run a game company and, if “real life” hadn’t intervened, I would have been using your approach to launch my own game company… and seeing games like The Vote have been a kick in the *** to get things launched properly in 2021.
So, thank you!
At worst, The Vote, has had to compete with other games of yours that I want to own and explore. This year, your Supply Lines games have belatedly joined my game library (pushing 900 games now… madness).
Back to the game:
And The Vote and This Guilty Land are in my queue.
These are great topics for games and hard to get a handle on. Your efforts are helping all of us move the world of game design forward.
I’ve found the 1850s a totally fascinating period and a challenge to build a workable game in (I’ve been struggling with a design in this period for several years).
For other reasons (not primarily for game design… but if you have a hammer…), I’ve been studying the Suffrage movement and other civil rights struggles.
PS – Other fun topics that deserve games – the coal wars in West Virginia (and the Panama Railroad screams for a tight little game).
The choice of player roles is a real challenge in these games. Based on reading about your designs (again, regretfully not having them in hand), I understand your choices for roles, but am concerned / frustrated by them (as described).
To me, the choices people make in real life (and games) are what I want to explore… so, I guess I’m most interested in the choices / decision space and then having the game model support that than in a model first perspective?
The existence of a Phyllis Schlafly or the compromises that Carrie Chapman Catt made over excluding African American women or her battles with Alice Paul are what most fascinate me.
Not quite sure how to put this better… I just want more games like this… and more ways to explore these topics..
Thanks for your thoughts! My apologies for not responding earlier, but there are a few threads running simultaneously and I’m imperfect at keeping hold of them all. Sorry about that.
Here’s my worry, and one of the reasons I suspect Tom is growing frustrated: some of us seem like we’re prizing a theoretical game over a real and functional game. I tend to regard games as cultural artifacts. As such, they’re also the vocabulary of a drawn-out conversation.
As I mentioned to Jeff, I would utterly love to see a game that highlights the contrasting priorities of conflicting suffragettes. But I tend to regard my role as a critic as evaluative rather than predictive. Until that game exists, I can’t actually discuss its efficacy as a statement within the ongoing conversation. The Vote doesn’t contain every detail of what it models. I’ve written previously about scope and relevance, although that article is limited to Patreon for the next week or two. The gist, though, is that within the model Russell has presented, infighting between suffragettes, exclusion of women of color, and other occurrences of that sort, are beneath the game’s “resolution,” so to speak. I would absolutely welcome the opportunity to investigate such a game were it to release! But, as you’ve pointed out, framing a game’s perspective is a difficult thing. Until it exists, it’s not only difficult, but also somewhat unfair to subject The Vote to criticism of that particular omission, especially when its argument is framed around structures of oppression that continue to this day.
In other words, I hope you decide to publish and design difficult titles! When you do, I would be absolutely thrilled to discuss them.
Tom: Wow, you’ve taken my comments in a spirit that I definitely did not intend. I apologize if I’ve given offense.
Let me try one more time. You are an intersectional third wave feminist. The first wave feminists were not that. You say of the game, that it’s supposed to provoke anger, and that even if Equality wins, the victory is incomplete. My question is, is the victory incomplete /from the perspective of a third wave feminist/, or /from the perspective of a first wave feminist/? In other words, does the game’s definition of victory flow from the “presentist” perspective, or from the characters in the game and what they would have considered a victory, or both of those? And my related question to Dan, which he has now answered, was, if it’s not “both”, then which is the “right” way to do historical work? (the answer to which seems to be “both are valid” which I have no objection to).
Dan: Whereas, to a designer, the most interesting thing to talk about are the things a particular game omits, or the shortcomings or limitations a particular game exhibits (I mean this generally, not about this particular game or conversation) because those are the opportunity areas for new works to explore!
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