#LHA300-2 – Content

The simplest and first place to look at a game’s text is the grouping of elements that we’re going to refer to as the content. As with all gaming terminology, this stuff is ambiguous. The terminology used to refer to game components shifts from place to place. In this case, what I’m discussing is one of the three major parts of a game that make up its text.

Game content is, in the broadest possible way, the non-moving parts of a game. It’s honestly one of the harder things to talk about in a game because listing the elements that make up content is incredibly broad.

A game’s content includes but is not limited to:

  • Artworks
  • Manuals
  • Text in the game
  • Advertising components (box art)
  • Dialogue
  • Text explaining how the game is played
  • Game components such as dice, pieces or counters
  • Voice acting
  • Music

A game’s content does not include:

  • Systems
  • Structure

This is important; text that explains how the game works is still part of the content, as that text preserves the elements that make up the game.  That is a place where the game can communicate how it wants to communicate. Even if the rules of a game are so simple as to be explained in a short, spoken description, doing so in that way is a part of demonstrating what a game sees as important. A broad, simple way to view it is content is the game components, divorced from the systems of how those game components interact.

The good news is, these elements are usually very easily estimated and considered. The game content has its own distinct character. These elements can be approached from a point of external ignorance, and the game is, itself, meant to present these elements to the reader in a participatory way.

So, you can examine Game Content and consider it in isolation. What kind of look does the game have? What words show up in its vocabulary? What does the game want to tell you about, initially? When the game makes its first impression, before you ever play it, what can you tell about it?

In The Suits, as a very small game with very small amount of content, it’s not hard to take it all in, at the moment. The game uses its cards to create a train. It refers to gangs and loot. The language of the game is, at this point, very gender-light; there’s no instances of ‘he’ or ‘she.’ The game is about a theft between conflicting parties, but also about ambiguity of identity, suggesting that nobody in these groups is necessarily famous enough to recognise one another. The train is a casino, suggesting ridiculous luxury.

There’s also an element of the game missing from the posted version: It describes tables used to convey some game information. That’s part of the content, and that would be another place to look for possible information about the game.

So far, the main thing you can tell about The Suits before considering its systems is that in this context, theft is okay, that rich people probably can afford to lose money, and there’s something heroic about criminals. The use of language suggests a fairly inclusive structure, though that might be industry standardisation.

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