How Smart/Dumb Are Our Customers?

Personality Chess has finished playtesting and is nearing publication. Hooray! However, we came across an interesting question while writing the rules: How smart or dumb should you assume your audience will be?

For example, one of the possible moves in Personality Chess is, “[The knight] will move as close as possible to an enemy knight.” Obviously, some clarification is needed. “This does not have to be a legal move” helps give the reader a proper understanding of how the rule works. But how deeply should a designer go in explaining a rule?

Should we say, “This does not have to be a legal move. Pick up the piece and place it down in the nearest adjacent square”? Do we need to define “adjacent” or “square”?  We want to be as clear as possible, but we also do not want to treat our audience as dolts with no understanding of the English language.

If we have to err, doing so on the side of clarity is probably the safer option. It’s better to over-explain than to under-explain. And while this wonderful modern age allows easy post-publication of errata and clarifications through forums, message boards, and the like, it’s preferable to fix it the first time. After all, we’re not software publishers!

Therefore, the rules to Personality Chess will be as clear as possible. Please don’t read this as “dumbed-down”. Instead, think of it as the best way to translate our fevered, caffeine-addled minds into something comprehensible.

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