But are they?
I mean, obviously we have the Forge, which makes horrible shitty games. But could, in theory, some more sensible school of game design theory be what produces great games? Doesn't the OSR have a kind of 'theory' to it?
I don't think so, actually.
Actually, I think good design doesn't come from Game Theory, it comes from Game Crafting, which is not the same.
Otherwise, saying that games come from Game Theory is like saying that all art comes from university art history courses.
All music comes from internet forums with people analyzing songs and lyrics.
I think that this is a pretty important difference between the (unbelievably shitty) Forge approach and the (ultimately great) OSR approach to game design. Both are talking about games, but the former was all about crafting big pseudo-intellectual meta-theories about the nature of games, which they pulled largely out of their asses, and then trying to create games to fit/prove those meta-theories.
The latter was about talking about games as they already are and how to build and make new cool stuff from that.
Games don't come from theory. Games come from Designers. Those designers may or may not involve discussion with other people in the process of what they create; but when they do, it is still the designer that comes first.
When you say the collective Theory comes first, you end up with abominations like the Forge and the Storygames movement.
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