4.5. Resources & Game State


Resources is a broad category, and I use it to mean everything that is under control of a single player. Obviously this includes explicit resources (Wood and Wheat in Settlers of Catan, health and mana and currency in World of Warcraft), but this can also include other things under player control:

What kinds of resources do the players control? How are these resources manipulated during play? This is something the game designer must define explicitly.

Game State

Some “resource-like” things are not owned by a single player, but are still part of the game: unowned properties in Monopoly, the common cards in Texas Hold ‘Em. Everything in the game together, including the current player resources and everything else that makes up a snapshot of the game at a single point in time is called the game state.

In board games, explicitly defining the game state is not always necessary, but it is sometimes useful to think about. After all, what are rules, but the means by which the game is transformed from one game state to another?

In video games, someone must define the game state, because it includes all of the data that the computer must keep track of. Normally this task falls to a programmer, but if the game designer can explicitly define the entire game state it can greatly aid in the understanding of the game by the programming team.

Materials on this page adapted from:
Game Design Concepts by Ian Schreiber (CC BY-NC 3.0)