I stumbled across this today. Not sure how I found it. It's another attempt to create some method of codifying games. It's a mechanistic method, better than most of the systems I've seen proposed, but I don't like it.
To me, a game is only a game when a player plays it. So I argue against solely representing the mechanics, and instead prefer to represent in a more holistic manner. I have a lot of problems with a mechanistic approach, and perhaps the largest is one which Joris falls into as well: a mechanistic approach tends to assume a single player playing a single, one-dimensional play-through. This is something I want to get away from.
So, my ideal language for describing games would take into account the fact that every game is played millions of times by both different players and the same players on repeat plays. I would also like to be able to model multiplayer games and, more specifically, games featuring parallel play, where the players do not take clean turns but instead act at their own pace. For example, a MMORPG.
My ideal language also allows for non-mechanistic elements to be modeled, as well as emergent, player-generated, and random elements that may or may not be mechanistic. Furthermore, I think it is a mistake to try to balance games using any language, although the language might indicate where sticky spots might be.
The game examples chosen by theorists proposing would-be languages are always highly mechanistic games, which suit their highly mechanistic languages. Modeling chess or tic-tac-toe is not very interesting to me. How about we model Sim City or Quest for Glory IV? Or Fluxx or Apples to Apples?
The non-mechanistic elements in those games are very strong, which makes any mechanistic representation of them woefully incomplete. Even just the mechanistic elements are generally badly represented: a big part of Sim City is the way your older construction decisions affect your new construction decisions. This complexity is not just beyond modern models: I think it might be beyond models. I think it might require actually creating and playing the game. But the basic idea of it, and the amplitude of it, and the reaction it hopes to cause, can be represented.
Unfortunately, my magical ideal language doesn't exist, and I have only a few basic ideas as to what it might, maybe, look like. I just thought I'd chime in with my dislike of these mechanistic representations.
After all, a game designer first and foremost builds interactive systems. So maybe we should have a model that represents the player half more thoroughly?