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Themed writingBorg the Terrible lifted his stupendous sword and cleaved the fiendish knight in half.
“Argh,” he growled!

What game uses this flavor text? If you’re anything like me the answer is: “hopefully no one I’ll ever play”. Ok, so I made it up to be bad on purpose. But that’s mostly because I don’t want to single out any specific game. That wouldn’t be fair, as some great games have some terrible flavor texts and even games with generally good flavor texts manage an epic fail now and again. So for the duration of this post I’ll only post examples of flavor texts I like and make up examples of bad one. But enough with the disclaimers.

Good flavor texts deliver one key thing which rules can’t: emotion. Rules need to be clear, concise, understandable and ordered. Flavor texts do away with all of the above. (more…)

Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga - shipsThe writer John Gardner, in his now quite classical work on writing titled “The Art of Fiction” talks about details as being the “proof” that makes a reader believe in what the writer is telling him.

That’s the whole “show don’t tell” thing – if the writer tells the reader “the guy was lonely and didn’t like it” it’s not very convincing. But let the guy look around his empty apartment, flick channels on the TV, stare at his breakfast table set for one and sigh and we believe, we feel that he’s in a slump.

The same goes for games. When the theme supports the mechanics we believe in the game, we’re sucked into it, engulfed in the world and enjoy our play. But if they diverge, if they clash with one another or with our gaming styles, then our minds are jarred out of the game and leave the table disappointed. (more…)