What does it mean to win at a game?

I’m a gamer. I’m inspired by, interested in, and a creator for games. As I’ve gotten more involved with creating my own games, I’ve come to analyze what players and game masters are looking for in a game. In essence, what does it mean to win a game? What is winning for my players? What is winning for me?

In my games, I like drama, intense, interpersonal drama. I want to tell a story that is thrilling, intense and personal. I want a story that would be equally fun to read about as it is to play. I want the rush of danger. I like to use games to examine issues of class and gender. I like to examine the nature of freedom. I want characters to have their identity challenged, I want them to know what it’s like to be second class.  I want monsters to have a shot at redemption. I want my villains to have a reason, a good, solid reason. I want there to be difficult, heart-wrenching choices. I want blood and tears. I want my characters to face temptation. I want consequences. I want sacrifice. I want glory.

I want there to be challenges the players can’t win, and ways to win even when they are losing. I want there to be big problems with difficult solutions. I want to give everyone a chance to be a hero. I want to give everyone the opportunity, and the pleasure, of a good, dramatic failure.  I want them to cross their own boundaries. I want them to influence the outcome. I want to be able to provide a rich world and fascinating characters. I want my players to feel safe and their characters to feel threatened. I want the characters to have something to live for and something they’d die to protect.

I want the characters to save each other. I want my players to have fun. I want to have fun. I want to learn something. I want to be delighted.

For me, that’s winning.