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Bloomsbury Academic USA
27 December 2018
The Unpredictability of Gameplay explores the many forms of unpredictability in games and proposes a comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding and categorizing non-deterministic game mechanics. Rather than viewing all game mechanics with unpredictable outcomes as a single concept, Mark R. Johnson develops a three-part typology for such mechanics, distinguishing between randomness, chance, and luck in gameplay, assessing games that range from grand strategy and MMORPGs to slot machines and card games. He also explores forms of unanticipated unpredictability, where elements of games fail to function as intended and create new forms of gameplay in the process. Covering a range of game concepts using these frameworks, The Unpredictability of Gameplay then explores three illustrative case studies: 1) procedural generation, 2) replay value and grinding, and 3) player-made practices designed to reduce the level of luck in non-deterministic games. Throughout, Johnson demonstrates the importance of looking more deeply at unpredictability in games and game design and the various ways in which unpredictability manifests while offering an invaluable tool for game scholars and game designers seeking to integrate unpredictability into their work.
By:   Dr. Mark R. Johnson (University of Alberta Canada)
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Academic USA
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
Weight:   526g
ISBN:   9781501321627
ISBN 10:   1501321625
Pages:   264
Publication Date:   27 December 2018
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
1: Introduction: Unpredictable Play Section I 2: Games with Randomness 3: Games of Chance 4: Games of Luck 5: Games with Instability Section II 6: Procedural Generation 7: Replay Value and Grinding 8: The Negation of Unpredictability Section III 9: Conclusion: A Framework for Non-Deterministic Games Notes Bibliography

Mark R. Johnson is a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, Canada. He studies the intersections of play and money, such as professional video gaming, live streaming, fantasy sports, and gamification. He is also an independent game developer, a retired professional poker player, and a freelance games writer for a number of publications.

Reviews for The Unpredictability of Gameplay

Unpredictability compels us to play games - now we know why. Johnson reveals that at the heart of gameplay is a deep philosophical question about how humans experience luck, chance and randomness. * Dr. Tom Brock, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK * Mark R. Johnson's Unpredictability of Gameplay is an enlightening analysis of randomness, chance and luck, and is vital reading for anyone who has ever rolled some dice, dealt out cards, or run a generative algorithm. Mark pulls ideas from across human history, tying together the beliefs of ancient civilisations and the thinking of modern-day game designers and researchers, while putting forward a bold new way to talk about one of the most important ideas in game design. A challenging, interesting and thoughtful book; it will change the way you think about unpredictability. * Dr. Michael Cook, Research Fellow and Game Designer, Queen Mary University of London, UK *


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