4.09. Game Design principles

Game Design principles

One of the key innovations of Systems Gaming is the involvement of game designers in the practice of creating and facilitating scenarios based on Systems Science models.

There are two key tasks that are absolutely non-negotiable in making and delivering Systems Games (and which are of significant benefit in a Participatory Co-modelling context as well) to which artists are integral:

  • Enriching the aesthetics of the system model to elicit greater investment from participants. A more lavishly created, fleshed-out and carefully realised game experience will cause players to care more, commit more and take the whole exercise more seriously.
  • Crafting sophisticated game experiences that generate the desired interactions and responses from participants.


Artists specialise in creating experiences. More than any other group, artists possess the sensibilities and the technique to strike the right balance of playful / serious, stimulated / given space to reflect, structured activities / freedom to play.

Game designers, whether digital, boardgame, interactive performance or live action role-playing (LARPing) – have a detailed understanding of the player experience. They possess the sensibilities and technique to effectively imagine:

  • How players first encounter the work
  • How they are contextualised within the game
  • How they come to understand the rules of the game and the affordances offered them
  • How they interact with other players and the facilitators
  • What the emotional arc(s) of the experience might be
  • How players may be guided if lost, supported if stressed, or nudged if disengaged.

All of these skills require extensive training, practice and the study of the sophisticated body of game design literature.

With these tools, game designers can help scientists construct provocative experiential games which generate the kinds of actions, behaviours and insights in players that the scenario demands.

Employed properly, Systems Gaming practice has the potential to convey an understanding of the behaviour of complex systems to a broad audience.