Hierarchy of Interface for Tabletop Games – The Stavro Principle

Hierarchy of Interface for Tabletop Games as observed by John Stavropoulos (Source)


TOOLS
The actual components of play, like character sheets, cheat sheets, boards and bits.

TEXT
The actual documented rules and how they are presented, including exact wording, procedures and game terms.

RULES
The parameters of play as best recalled by the players. Less formal than text, but more formal than the basic design intent.

INTENT
The assumptions of how a game would be played, often expressed directly by the designer with minimal formal documentation.

“Dice,” “Pencil” symbol from The Noun Project collection.
“Paper” symbol by Tom Schott, from The Noun Project collection.
“Quote” symbol by Henry Ryder, from The Noun Project collection.
“Note” symbol by Brendan Lynch, from the Noune Project collection.
“Pawn” symbol by Kenneth Von Alt, from The Noun Project collection.
“Dialog” symbol by Dima Yagnyuk, from The Noun Project collection.


This graphic is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

So, a little background: John made some observations about RPG rules presentation on a Google Plus thread. Luke Crane suggested this could be modeled as a hierarchy by some designerly folks. I took the case and made slight slight tweaks broaden the scope to board games, too. Feel free to use this in your discussions. I'm not really interested in getting into game theory debates though. :)
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.