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God Games

 

Disciplines > Game Design > Types of Game > God Games

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

'God Games' are those in which the player has god-like powers.

These powers include:

  • Terraforming and other shaping of land and sea.
  • Weather control, from rain to earthquakes.
  • Control of other major forces such as health and the spread of disease.
  • Creating and killing people and other life-forms.
  • Directing people, changing their attitudes, motivations and personality.
  • Dispensing and removing wealth.
  • Being capable of omniscience, omnipresence and having omnipotent powers.

The goals of the game may be vague but often are around growing tribes and entire civilizations, fighting wars, developing people and so on.

The player may be the only god. There may also be other player (or non-player) gods who may collaborate or compete. 

Example

Simulation ('sim') games where the player controls the lives of families, the weather in towns, and so on.

In role-player games, the 'games master' has god powers.

Discussion

God games appeal to the need for a sense of control and provides this through god-like powers to change things we cannot change in everyday life (but perhaps would like to change).

With god-powers, the player can implement 'deus ex machina' effects, which may be best described as 'and then a miracle occurred'. This is sometimes used by unimaginative authors to unravel twisted story plots. In games, it can get you out of difficult situation.

The risk of god-game design is that the game becomes boring. Power is great, but ultimate power leaves nothing to strive for, and hence nothing where the player can gain a sense of achievement.

See also

Games as Escape, Control, Power, Values

 

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