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    Feb 11th, 2016 at 15:15:14     -    Nomic (Other)

    Single Player Nomic

    Description: The game Nomic, developed by Peter Suber, is a game where players have the ability to vote on and manipulate the rules of the game. The game has mutable and immutable rules. Mutable rules are rules that can simply be manipulated in some way i.e. the addition, negation, or modification of rules. Immutable rules are rules that must first be transmuted into mutable rules before they can be modified. Presumably the base rules of the game that define the very essence of how to play are immutable. For instance, one could vote to have the rule defining how immutable rules work be transmuted into a mutable rule. One could then eliminate this rule thus getting rid of the restraints imposed by immutable rules all together. Thus all the rules I am currently using to define Nomic could theoretically be modified in themselves. In describing the rules of the overall game Nomic, one is only really describing the initial rules of the game (which may or may not change depending on how the game develops).

    The "version" of Nomic I used does not place as strict limitations on following the initial rule set given by Suber (basically I just made it more casual from the start). I believe an official game of Nomic could still play out the same way; however, it would have taken a bit longer having to transmute initial immutable rules into mutable rules and then actually voting to modify them. By having an initially modified version of the game from the start one would not have to deal with the extra bureaucratic processes of achieving that modified version of the rules at the start of every game.

    Game One: In the first game of Nomic the player set consisted of me. By automatically encompassing the majority of voters in the game I effectively declared myself as a dictator governing my own mental game. I decided to streamline the rulemaking allowing me to progress the game at the pace of my own desires.

    My first rule to have some substantial effect on game play was to force myself to imagine I was analyzing the relation of an imagined game of four square playground rules and medieval European feudalism. I thought about how the physical four squares represent the hierarchy of power amongst all those involved in feudalism society. The number one square represents the lord of the realm (e.g. the king). The following three numbers represent the lord’s court. Often nobles with high amounts of power and close relations to the lord would occupy these locations. The line of people going outside the number four square represent the peasants of society who hope to obtain some level of social mobility one day. The teacher on recess duty mildly reflects the pope.

    The lord’s main goal was to always maintain his current position in the game. All other players hope to eventually obtain his position. The lord obviously wants to maintain a court of players that cannot undermine his position of power. It is in his interest to have high ranking players either be on a positive relation with him or be too weak to actually overthrow him. This same attitude would trickle down to the other squares. They too would need to keep their position safe from those in lower levels of society while still making attempts to further rise up. Various amounts of fighting amongst the different factions would often occur. An alliance could fall apart just as quickly as it came about. Many times when a peasant is given a brief glimpse of power in the fourth square, the peasant would immediately get eliminated by the rest of the ruling establishment.

    By following playground rules, the lord is able to implement arbitrary methods of passing the ball (e.g. the cheery bomb, black magic, tea party, etc). These methods tend to be overly favorable in maintain the lords current position of power. Normal foursquare would be restricted to just the normal passage of the ball. In those games there is a more realistic chance for one to rise up in society; however, even in these situations the game tends to still favor those who are already in high positions of power (One could make a whole analysis on the comparison of wealth distribution in modern day society to regular foursquare).

    There was much more I could have thought about involving the allegory, but I found the game was starting to drag on for too long. I eliminated the rule requiring this analysis. I threw in a quick rule to remind me that more was still accomplished in this game than that one time my friend spent an hour explaining rules of Battlestar Galactica and then had to leave before actually starting the game. I finally declared this game over.

    Game Two: The second game followed a similar initial format of the first game. I became dictator and declared the rules. I however declared that this game could not progress until I begin writing a game log to describe the very game.
    My first major rule voted upon was to add in some quote from Winston Churchill into this game log:

    “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender” –Winston Churchill

    My second rule was to check what the weather was like and see if there was anything new in the news. There was nothing new that I did not already read about.

    I then declared a rule that I should declare another rule.

    The next rule I decided on required me to somewhat justify that single player Nomic is a valid game based on definitions of games I was aware of. This game clearly has a set of rules. By certain definitions of fun (e.g. some level cognitive motivation to some state) one could call this game fun. I was at least mildly satisfied enough by this attempt at justification.

    Thez nextz rulez implementedz requiredz thatz everyz wordz inz thez descriptionz ofz thisz rulez mentionz inz thez gamez logz mustz endz withz anz additionalz zz.

    My next rule declared that all subsequent elements of what occurred in this game after this rule is implemented cannot be described in the game log (including declaring that the game has ended).

    Conclusion: Overall, I would say the game of Nomic was alright. I do not believe I played it in ideal settings. I would not recommend a single player version of this game that takes place mostly inside your head. In such a case the game technically can only progress based on what is “fun” for you. You are not motivated to manipulate the rules in a way that you are not motivated to do. The game is limited in the sense that you cannot really add rules that effectively change your disposition to the game (at least not specifically with today’s current medical technology). However, I do enjoy the logical repercussions based on what rules one chooses to allow. The fact that the game can evolve into not being itself is a concept that truly makes it unique.

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