The Book As Artifact
Posted by Nathan P. on July 27, 2006
Here’s a honest question: are there any large-press games that are being produced with an eye towards how the book itself, as an artifact, informs play?
This is one of those things that really excites me about the creator-owned design and production process. We can make books that, by their physical makeup, interface with the imagined content that playing that game generates. One thing I’m really hankering to check out at Gen Con is Keith Senkowski’s Untitled. I’m also very curious to flip through Shock:. The cover is gorgeous and evocative, and I can’t imagine that the content is any less.
I know that Ron has posted about how he put Sorcerer together the way he did because he wanted picking it up and flipping through it to be a different experience, from the get-go, than picking up a standard-size game book. I think InSpectres has a good physical presence at the table, personally. Small and unobtrusive and glanceable.
Carry is laid out in a manner inspired by military field manuals (credit where credit is due – I may not have gone through with it were it not for Keith’s prodding). It’s pretty stark and serious and no-nonsense. I think it works. I’m very curious to see reactions from people who pick it up sight unseen.
This is one element of a larger concern that is becoming stronger within me. Production is an element of design. As I start to conceptualize new projects, I’ve been thinking about how the final product will look, and work, as a part of how the game itself will play. At this point, I can’t even imagine saying “Well, maybe it’ll be 5.5×8.5, unless I get a high enough page count, in which case I’ll go for full-size, maybe with a hardcover.”
Where am I on the spectrum with this? And what kinds of other concerns that relate physical book design to the gameplay experience should I be incorporating?