Luck Versus Skill, A Look into Theming

July 1 2016, 6:40pm

Does luck have a place in an escape room card game?
Does luck have a place in an escape room card game?

Since introducing others to my escape room card game at San Jose Protospiel, I’ve received a lot of great feedback about it, including one person who said “So everything is here. It just needs art.”

Most recently at Gamex, I had the privilege of playing my game with two escape room aficionados. They said many great things about the game mechanically, but for them the theme was pretty off.

“It’s not an escape room.”

Perplexed I inquired more and discovered that because my game relies on dice rolling as opposed to wrote skill, it might be best to theme it as something else.

The basic mechanic they’re referring to is one where you roll dice that you’ve collected to fulfill certain card objectives (dependent on the number of cards of that type that your team has uncovered). If, for instance, you find the eye of the hawk statue, you might have a harder time solving the clue (rolling dice successfully) than if you had a completed hawk statue.

I very much appreciate their insight, but it has led me to wonder:

At what point should we, as a designers, reject changing a theme because a game doesn’t closely resemble what actually happens in real life?

There are three games that quickly come to mind where enthusiasts might say its not like the real thing—Monopoly, Life, and Agricola.

If similar feedback were received about these games, would they have been made?

Are there any games that are near approximations of the theme?

What are we, as game designers, ultimately tasked with doing when it comes to introducing a theme and creating a story?

Just some questions I had as a result of this all. No doubt, I’m thankful for all the feedback I’ve received. I’m going to continue developing the game. Whether it comes out as an escape room themed game though remains to be seen.

What are your thoughts about this all?

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