Brutalist Adventure Game Design

Consider this a manifesto of sorts. Inspired by brutalist architecture and the development of brutalist web design, I want to get the ball rolling on the Brutalist Manifesto for adventure game design. I consider these to be principles to strive for, but not dogmatically adhere to.
 

Image generated with Midjourney.

Usability

Functionality First
The form, text and presentation should be functional. They should be usable for the players at the table. The form should be practical and easy to arrange on the table. The text should be concise and easy to read and reference. The presentation should convey information that reduces the need for text.

Material-Adaptive

The game should function well in any format—printed, online, or hand-written. Whether players are using graph paper or a digital tablet, the game should adapt to their needs. This can mean supplying character sheets for physical play and online play. Consider the environmental impact when designing physical components.

Ease of Reading

The text must be easy to read and digest. Avoid decorative or complex fonts and backgrounds that can distract or confuse.
 

Simplicity

Brevity and Precision
Clarity is essential. Rules should be brief and to the point. Remove any unnecessary words or rules.

Low Cognitive Load

The game should minimize the cognitive load on players and game masters alike. Fewer, more intuitive rules mean less time spent referencing rulebooks or thinking about rules. Enable players to be immersed in the world.

Transparency
The game's mechanics and decisions should be clear to everyone at the table. Avoid hidden rules and complex processes that can create confusion. Enable informed agency for the players.

Brutal Simplicity
Strip everything back to its most fundamental level. The gameplay experience should be straightforward, inviting, and unpretentious.
 

Inclusivity

Universal Accessibility
Everyone should be welcome at the table. Keep costs affordable, rules comprehensible, and gameplay adaptable for people of various abilities. Respect and represent diverse experiences and identities in the game content.

Minimalist Aesthetics
Embrace a simple, clean aesthetic that is accessible and appealing to a wide range of players. The aesthetic should prioritize function over decoration. Encourage participation and community content creation by setting an aesthetic standard that many can recreate.

Open Game Creation
Democratize game creation. Encourage the design and sharing of games by providing resources, guides, and tools. Strive for not only creating inclusive games but also fostering an inclusive game-creation community. Recognize and celebrate the diversity of ideas emerging when game design tools are accessible to all.

If you have thoughts about this, let me know over at my community server on Discord or @ me in a mutual space.

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