Koster’s Checkers and Uno


It is pretty well known that games do not have to have a story for them to be fun. Raph Koster uses checkers as an example. “It’s a board game about entrapment and forced action, played on a diamond shaped grid.” He goes on to say, “When we say ‘king me’ in checkers, we’re adding a subtle bit of fiction to the game.” But isn’t his description of the game a “subtle bit of fiction” in and of itself? I know before I read his book excerpt “A Theory of Game Design” I did not think about checkers in this way. Koster says he sees the kinging element of checkers as adding fiction to the game because the game acquires “feudal overtones and a medieval context.” But if we think about Koster’s description of checkers, isn’t fiction there from the very beginning? So if we think in this vein, Uno can be a game about trying to throw away all your possessions but crap keeps happening that more junk keeps coming your way. Do not even get me started on that Wild Draw 4 card. And even that element of the game leads to a story. It’s a story about how to end friendships that really has nothing to do with how the game is played, but it has become a part of the game.