Reply To: It's not the game type, it's the rules

June 27, 2016 at 12:46 pm #2158
Mike Kim

Hey —

So, this is a really interesting subject, and it’s very much related to the types of things I need to think about all the time when I’m developing curriculum — here are a few of my thoughts — I’ll try to limit myself to the stuff that a student (as opposed to a curriculum developer) would find most useful —

1) In many ways, the game type and the rules are two sides of the same coin — game types are defined by the types of relationships involved (such as that elements are being placed in some sort of order) and the rules are about these very relationships (“X is before Y” etc.). If a game situation didn’t involve ordering you couldn’t have ordering rules, and if you didn’t have ordering rules (or considerations) there is no need to think of it as an ordering game.

2) In addition, more specific categories of games have unique types of rules — for example, if you have an ordering game without any grouping, and where every place in the order is taken up by just one person, than a rule like “K does not go before M” tells us that K must go after M. However, in a game where there is a combination of ordering and grouping (for example, three groups perform, one at a time and in order), the same rule could also give us the possibility that K and M go in the same place in the order.

3) Your mind can learn and master an infinite number of challenges as long those challenges are properly organized — your mind is a gazillion times worse at the job if it tries to take in a bunch of disjointed info without a sense of the relationship — so, practicing, for example, a grouping of ordering games involving subsets, and getting immersed for a bit on that limited subsection of game situations, then moving on to some other related subject, will, over time allow you to master far, far more information, and do so far more easily, than, for example, just playing game after game after game all mixed together. So, this is another benefit of studying games in types.

4) Having said all that, and I think these next few points are most related to what you were saying — at the end of the day, the key to playing Logic Games is making deductions — more specifically, thinking about the right types of things, making inferences, which lead to additional inferences, and so on. And, in terms of making these deductions, you are absolutely right that the rules have a more significant and direct impact on them than do the general game characteristics — if you get incredibly good at seeing how different combinations of rules come together, knowing the game type won’t even be a consideration. (FYI — when I study games, these inferences are the backbone of what I study, and, as you alluded to, I study these inferences by thinking about how rules come together to form them.)

5) So, in terms of game categories, I think it’s helpful to see them as a means to an end — the game categories define the types of rules that can appear, and the relationships among the rules determine the inferences — again, it is these inferences you care most about. It’s also helpful to use these categories to organize your practice, per reasons I discussed above.

6) When it comes to using game categories, you can certainly take things too far, as you alluded to — you want to avoid —
a) thinking that you have to depend on an extreme level of setup cleverness in order to succeed on games
b) thinking that setting up the perfect diagram is an end in and of itself
c) becoming so fragmented in your studies that you then become hugely dependent on needed to correctly identify the game type in a very specific way
d) and possibly worst of all, developing or falling for bad logic game systems that cause you to develop diagramming strategies so specific to game type that you can’t easily adjust them when, invariably, the games you see on test day don’t fit into those neatly prescribed types.

7) It is my personal belief that the vast majority of students underperform on the LG section at least in part because they over-complicate how they play the games. Thinking with a mindset of “correctly categorize game type and try to come up with clever diagram” makes anyone much more susceptible to overcomplicating. Going into every game with a focus on making the right inferences (and starting a game by reading through the scenario and all rules, and deciding on the most important rule/combination of rules before deciding how you will diagram is an example of the type of strategy that helps you naturally prioritize inferences) — and habitually thinking about games in that way will, I believe, over time do much more to help you get more and more efficient and accurate at solving games.

To summarize —
game type and rules don’t have to be seen as opposing each other — they are concepts that are connected to one another — but at the same time, there is certainly a danger to focusing too much on game categorization — and, at the end of the day, you want to make sure you see your diagramming as a means to an end — that end being the making of deductions (and rules are what most directly lead you to these inferences) —

Not sure if that hit squarely on what you were thinking about, but I’ve got to get back to work so I’ll stop myself there — hope u found that at least somewhat useful, an hope you have a good week of studies — MK