Hierarchy of Interface for Tabletop Games – The Stavro Principle

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

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

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

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


  1. I can't get access to the source document. Is it set to public? Cause if it isn't I don't think I'm the only one with this issue.

  2. D'oh! It's here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7247980/HierarchyofInterface.indd

  3. the quote at the bottom is difficult for me to read on any of my pcs.

  4. The original quote is available from the linked source, but here it is copied and pasted.

    “This is why I feel game interfaces (character sheets, cheat sheets) are more important than rules text and rules text is more important than rules and rules are more important than design intent when it comes to actual play... we generally can’t assume players will read the rules, that GMs won’t remember more than 5-7 distinct pieces of information at a time without reference, and if we don’t provide teaching tools, that the game will be taught correctly.”



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 Graphic Design and Typography Tips for your Card Game

Troubleshooting: How to fix "Remove Blank Lines for Empty Fields" in InDesign Data Merge

One Thing to Avoid in Game Design