Types of Information in Games

In The Interactive Book, designer and scholar Celia Pearce presents a different typology for understanding the ways games manifest information. She proposes four scenarios:

· Information known to all players: In Chess, this would consist of the rules of the game, board layout, and piece movement parameters.

· Information known to only one player: In Gin, this would be the cards in your hand.

· Information known to the game only: In Gin, this would be unused cards in deck. In Space Invaders, this would be the paths and frequency of alien space ships.

· Randomly generated information: In Backgammon, this would be the roll of the dice.[2]

Pearce's categories offer another way of describing the informational component of a game. She differentiates between two kinds of hidden information, one in which each player possesses private information and another in which the game system itself hides information from all of the players. As she illustrates through her example of Gin, any card game with a shuffled deck and private hands for each player contains both kinds of hidden information. Pearce also designates randomly generated information within its own informational category.


Despite our critique of Pearce's model, the four categories she proposes are in fact quite useful. For example, information is not always either public or private, and often moves between categories. As a deck of face-down cards are exposed to players, there is movement from once-private information to information that is public and shared. Similarly, in Battleship, both play- ers try to uncover information that is hidden from them, but known to their opponent. As Battleship proceeds, the positions of the players' ships gradually become public knowledge.


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 Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Salen, Katie (2003925), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: games game design gameplay