The systems of a game are, for lack of any better word, the how of a game. When you have a game in front of you, you can look at each individual piece, but once you set up the game, you are complying with the system. The game tells you what priority and order to look at things when you put it in a system; it conveys to you information about the important details.
The systems of a game structure the content.
This is important: The game is meant to present information to the player. Unlike a more structured essay, the game content is presented to a player in an meaningful way, but not necessarily in a linear way. Game content is part of an inter-related cloud of information, where each section opens questions as to other, possible things that are worth considering. That is to say, game content induces the consumption of other, related pieces of game content. This is regardless of what systems are or do – players are induced to naturally wait for the game’s content to draw attention from one piece to the next.
Game content is largely easy to consider, in a vacuum, as a teacher. It can be considered in terms of its volume and its basic skill in construction – are the instructions cleanly spelled, do they make some sense, do they project the appropriate character of the game’s tone? – but the challenge presented in grading content is to not just take that text into account, but to then consider what game content is presented in terms of relevance, and that is where systems take up the burden of the game.
In The Suits, the systems are reasonably simple, and use the cards to randomise and handle memory. Characters have gang roles, which they are assigned at random. They have nicknames, and allegiances, which are also assigned randomly, and the nickname is even up for individual interpretation.
Reading the rules as a play of the game, it does work in a linear passage of time; you start the game, encounter hazards, learn how to overcome those hazards, then how you can lose the game, or win it.
There’s a voting system which is barely explained, suggesting the game doesn’t really have a strict view on how people should vote, just that there needs to be some balance. Loot can be used to dispose of problems, which is also not directly explained, and could create strange interactions depending on what players consider the hazard to be.
Finally, there’s a only one way to win the game, and that comes at the end of a chain of ways you can lose. This suggests that the idea of winning the game is actually unlikely.