Our assertion is that Sedis is only the fourth generic gaming device in existence today. But, what exactly is a “generic gaming device?”
The Wikipedia entry for dominoes asserts that “[a] domino set is a generic gaming device, similar to playing cards or dice, in that a variety of games can be played with a set.” This is a fair description of Sedis too, but how can we claim that it’s only the fourth extant such set – and, possibly, in humanity’s history?
I’ve long believed this assertion to be true but, earlier this year, we undertook a study to validate it. Here’s how we did it:
First, we went to the most comprehensive database of tactile board/tabletop games of which we’re aware: Boardgamegeek.com. Specifically, we looked at their list of all items tagged as “game systems,” which consists of 215 purported game systems. We then categorized these products into one of six categories:
- Singular Game: A product which is played using a singular (or highly-similar) set of game mechanics and rules
- Multi/Related Games: A product which is played using a singular (or highly-similar) set of game mechanics but with variations of rules
- Generic Game Device: A product with which multiple games with differing game mechanics and rules may be played, with deliberate and similar piece design, and which is not truly transcendent of language/cultural barriers
- Universal Generic Game Device: A product with which multiple games with differing game mechanics and rules may be played, with deliberate and similar piece design, and which is truly transcendent of language/cultural barriers
- Game System Variant: A product which is of any other category but is strongly derived from another generic game system
- Generic Game Pack: A product with which multiple games with differing game mechanics and rules may be played, with non-similar and/or non-deliberate piece design
To begin the assessment, we filtered out the singular games, because these products do not allow for multiple games to be played, except under very minor variations of rules. This filter reduced the number of products from 215 to 21.
We then sorted the remaining products into the other five categories. In most cases, this was easy, but we did have to make some judgment calls. To minimize bias, we sought the input of a few outsiders to validate our own assessments, and we found their judgment to be consistent with our own.
In the end, our consensus is as follows:
- Multi/Related Games: 10
- Generic Game Device: 0
- Universal Generic Game Device: 3
- Game System Variant: 4
- Generic Game Pack: 4
Interestingly, we could not find any ‘generic game device’ which was not a ‘universal generic game device’. The ones we found are dice, dominoes, and playing cards, in their order of historical development. In other words, it seems that, when generic game devices are created, they are done so in a way which overcomes language/cultural barriers; they are very often almost purely mathematical in construction.
This is how Sedis is designed, as well. Through Sedis, a large variety of games can be played, and new game mechanics are still being discovered.
Based on our assessment, it would seem that our assertion that Sedis is only the fourth extant generic game system is valid.
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