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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a series of terms that is applicable to video games:

What are Cozy/Wholesome Games?

A wholesome game is a little difficult to pin down because there are so many different kinds of wholesome games. The one underpinning piece of what makes up a wholesome (or cozy) game is that it is non-violent. Some wholesome games are bright and vibrant. Others are a bit more muted. Some cozy games are social simulation games like Animal Crossing or Cozy Grove or chill, low-key match-three games like Spirit Swap or even spatial awareness games like Unpacking

A picture of a player standing in front of their house in Animal Crossing New Horizons.

Wholesome games are more about how they feel rather than what genre they are. If a game allows for a player to comfortably exist in that digital world without violence or high-stakes competition, it’s wholesome (in some way). The biggest strength of what defines wholesome/cozy games is in how subjective it is. Its breadth and depth allows for developers and players alike to define what wholesome means to them.

Cozy (wholesome) games are considered a trend, but an entire digital conference presentation has popped up around these games called Wholesome Games’ Wholesome Direct. The Wholesome Direct is a presentation that usually happens during June (around E3, whatever form that happens to be) and features a wide array of games that are considered “wholesome” in their “vibe”. The Wholesome Direct was also shrunk down to a “snack-sized” presentation in the lead-up to the Game Awards in 2022.


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is applicable to board games and tabletop role-playing games, the term applies widely beyond gaming:

Analysis Paralysis

The term Analysis Paralysis is common in board games. However, it is applicable in all gaming, and within decision-making in work and life in general. With Analysis Paralysis many choices are available, often too many choices. The decision maker out of anxiety or a fear of making the wrong decision my take excessive time making their decision, or in extreme cases make no decision at all.

In-game settings, the player spends an excessive amount of time considering their options and plotting the implications. This excessive time can often negatively impact other players by extending the game time and forcing long waits between turns. Often players overthink their options. It can be very frustrating for other players in the game when the gameplay time is extended for this reason. These long wait times take away from the game experience of other players. There are multiple ways to address and mitigate some of the decision making which will be discussed below.

History:

The idea of being paralyzed by decision-making is an old one. We can see a reference to it, though not used by name, in Aesop’s fable The Fox and the Cat. The fable tells of a Fox and Cat that each has tricks to escape the hounds. The cat only had one trick and the Fox had “a whole sackful”. Once threatened by the hounds, that cat did its one trick for an escape without hesitation. The Fox meanwhile started and restarted with different tricks and was unable to escape. You can read the full story here. The idea of the fable is that one may have so many options their failure to act on any of them can be detrimental.

The phrase Analysis Paralysis is credited with being paired together in an 1803 pronouncing dictionary. These words became paired for their rhyming, and also for the memorable phrase they created. The concept has long existed but this phrasing captured it in a more concise manner.

Ways Minimize Analysis Paralysis

With Analysis Paralysis being an old problem, there is a classic game that has come up with a solution. In Chess, players can use a Chess Clock. This is a special clock with two clocks so players can track their available time to make their moves.

Strategies to Minimize Analysis Paralysis in Gaming:

  • Timers/chess clock: By limiting time it reduces the negative impact on other players. A timer provides incentives to prevent overanalyzing the choices, as well as a hard stop to analyzing choices.
  • Choose games with limited choices per turn. By starting with fewer choices it reduces the need for a long analysis of choices.
  • Slowly include games that add more choices. Rather than jumping right to a game with many choices, try to increase the game complexity and choices available incrementally to build the habit of a short decision-making time.
  • Perfect decisions are not the key, so building a culture where perfection is not the goal. The culture at a gaming session is critical to the comfort of players overall, but it can play a major factor in decision-making. If a player feels safe to take a risk and not worry about negative comments they may not be so fixated on making the “right” move.
  • Focus on your main objective, if there are multiple. In more complex games there are usually multiple parts of the game and aspects to focus on. When there are many decisions to make, it can be helpful to go back to the main objective to limit the scope of your choices.

Strategies To Minimize Analysis Paralysis Outside of Gaming

  • Focus on your main objective, if there are multiple: Just like in gaming, when there are multiple objectives, what is the main or most important one. Use that to guide your focus and narrow the relevant choices.
  • Set a time frame/ timer: Create a hard time limit if one does not already exist. Time limits help to focus the analysis by having a firm ending time.
  • Prioritize the Options: Try to eliminate some of the less optimal options. One great strategy is making a list so you can see the options and then cross off less important or optimal options.
  • Take a break: If you are able to, take a break from analyzing your choices. By stepping away from the active analysis you can come back with fresh eyes to the options to aid in decision-making.
  • Ask for Advise: If there is an expert or someone more experienced you can seek their insights and thoughts. They may have a valuable perspective to focus on the most important options you have in your decision-making.

Final Thoughts

Analysis Paralysis is often a term used in gaming, but is certainly not limited to gaming. Many of the strategies above can be applied to all aspects of decision-making. If you find yourself frozen, and struggling to make a decision see if one or more strategy helps you.


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known games: LARP

LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role-Playing. It Incorporates physical action, improv, cosplay, and roleplay into a single event. Players inhabit a fantasy world at a set location in real-time and can be based in a wide variety of genres.

LARPing involves social interaction with players and NPCs (non-playing characters). LARP events will require specific costumes and props to further the set environment. More experienced players will likely be better outfitted for LARPing events having collected gear over a longer period of time. New players can purchase supplies at various stores and online sites. LARP organizations such as Alliance have forums to guide new players. Preparation: character creation, backstory, props, costuming, etc. assist players with fuller immersion into the event.

References can be similar to tabletop role-playing questions, general gameplay, character class and race choices. Parents may need to assist with forum surfing, costuming. As with sports or a new instrument, invest minimally at first to ensure your player’s interest warrants a larger financial investment.

A PC attacking an NPC

What does LARP mean?

LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role Play. LARP is an immersive story experience where participants physically act out their character’s actions. Staff create a different world for players to plunge into with costuming, props, and scenography into an amazing experience. Most children have played make believe. We have all seen towel capes, construction paper crowns, and broom stick swords. LARP is the next evolution of that, which is why children easily lean towards LARP.

LARP Basics

There are several genres of LARP, with 2 basic types. The first: Adventure, Demonstrative, or Boffer LARPs feature mock combat with foam weapons. These LARPs encourage the players to work as a group towards a common goal. Serving the greater good, protecting a community, exploring the unknown, finding a lost item or person, and so on. Another term for this group is combat LARP, and they have genre-specific weapons. The second: Interactive, Literature, Parlor, Salon, or Theater LARP features heavy role-play with emotional interaction more character-driven, often with no specific goal or task. Groups without combat are non-combat LARPs. Their conflicts resolve with cards, dice, or chance games (ie rock paper scissors).

Similar to most modern video games and tabletop role-playing, LARP is Player vs Environment (PVE) or Player vs Player (PVP). PVE the group is united as a whole against something threatening the land, the town, and so forth. Players can face monsters, puzzles, traps, and so forth. PVP plays the players against each other. Narrative or personal motivations can drive this game’s focus and player interaction. (We define PvE and PvP in the greater gaming context here.)

How to find a LARP?

Now is the time to find a new LARP group. Many groups were constrained by the pandemic and are restarting and rebuilding. There are several online resources, use your favorite search engine and search for LARP or LARP in your area. If you already know what genre you’re interested in, add that to your search as well, i.e. pirates, medieval, futuristic, and so on. Some specific sites include LARPfinder, meetup (for larger cities), reddit (r/LARP), Facebook, and many others.

Local gaming and tabletop stores often have LARP advertising and may have LARPers on staff. There are some summer camps with LARP themes and events as well. Conventions can also be a good resource for single-event LARPs, some may run over the course of the convention. You can typically reach out to the organizers and ask. There are LARPs across the globe with a wide variety of genres and sizes. You will find one that fits if you look for it!

Examples of different LARPs. 

LARP genres can vary as widely as any interest base. These genres can include: aliens, cyberpunk, futuristic, fantasy, historical, horror, pirates, murder mysteries, superheroes, and whatever else imagination can create. Genre types will dictate costuming, weapons, character interactions, and window dressing for the environment. The setting will determine how your player reacts to what is around them. A pirate or cowboy won’t be as surprised by a train as an elf from a medieval setting might be.

Some LARP games and genres are geared towards adults only, most vampire LARP is adult only. Most LARPs have their age requirements posted on their homepages to make child-friendly LARP easier to find. (AllianceLARP New Hampshire, for example, allows players starting at 14 with a guardian.)

What are Boffer weapons?

Bow, Swords, Staff

Boffer weapons are traditionally part of American LARP.  Boffer weapons are 3 layers: a rigid base, foam middle, and duct tape or nylon cover. The materials vary. Foamsmith (boffer weapon makers) skill sophistication can vary from pool noodles with handles to sleek light weapons resembling their real-world counterparts. Boffer weapons are built for safety and ease of play by a wider range of players. They are typically checked for safety before every event. Boffer weapons are easy to use by the average player. However, they are not always painless, especially in the heat of battle with adrenaline. It is not uncommon to get a bruise or two from combat regardless.

European LARPers tend to use latex rubber weapons which are heavier, and more realistic in appearance, but require more physicality to wield. In some cases more extreme LARPers use real weapons, this is rare and more likely in historical reenactments than play.

Is Cosplay the same thing as LARP?

No. Cosplay and LARP are not the same things. They are similar. Cosplay is when you dress up as a character from a movie, TV show,  book, videogame, or your own creation. Most Cosplay is found at conventions or special events connected to the character. Stormtroopers, Wookies, and Jedi often appear when a new Star Wars movie comes out, that is Cosplay. Cosplay is more for appearances and getting into a character as an expression of enjoying a fandom. LARP costuming needs to be functional as well as genre appropriate to play a game.

Is LARP Similar to DnD?

Absolutely. LARP and Dungeons and Dragons have very similar origins and base rules. Noncombat LARP uses dice or card systems similar to D&D for combat resolution.

Both games require a bit of imagination to help build the setting and role-playing. Most LARPers play D&D or other similar role-playing games in the off-season, or started there and branched off into LARPing. If your child is nervous about LARP, tabletop role-playing games are a good place to learn which genres they’re interested in and a chance to practice their role-playing skills.

What does a new player need to know?

Learn the basics before you go. Most LARP groups have websites with the rules, they may have a rulebook, requirements, and so on. You should have read through those things at least once before you go to an event. Game restrictions and waivers should be known ahead of time not when you’re with your kiddo in full costume at the event. If you or your child need special accommodations, reach out to the game runners ahead of time (they typically have at least an email on their websites) or other players may be able to help or point you in the right direction. Review costume guidelines and requirements. Part of immersing yourself into a LARP world is the proper costuming.

What to Bring

If the venue is outside, bring sunscreen, bug spray, and water. Dress appropriately for the weather, extreme weather conditions can lead to certain costuming holds. It’s easy to add layers to a cloak and remove them on cold days. Ask ahead of time about food and drinks. Some offerings either in or out of game may be provided or you may have to pack lunch. Try to play along and bring in genre meals, a Lunchable can be repacked in reusable wax cloth instead of a plastic container. If the event is a one-off versus a multi-day event you may need to arrange sleeping accommodations as well. This may be camping or a local hotel.

Acclimating to Events

NPCs

Remember it’s natural to be quieter when you’re new. Many LARPers have been playing for years and are very welcoming. Give it a few events before deciding it’s not for you. However, group dynamics aren’t always a fit, you can explore other games and other groups. LARP is an international game, there are places for everyone.

Most games start with a welcome speech or intro, this is your time for new players to ask their questions. Logistics or the pre-start time where your costuming and weapons are being checked for safety is also a time for questions.  Most games have moderators or experienced players or staff on hand to answer questions as you go, identify them early, and ask. It doesn’t hurt to play into your character either and ask in game.

Places to buy LARP costuming and supplies

Finding the right costuming for your character can go a long way into finding role-playing and helping a new player step out of the real world and into the LARP world. LARPing can be an expensive hobby. There can be ways around that, especially for new players trying out LARP before committing. Look to your new LARP group for guidance: new player forums, game organizers, and veteran players can all help you with rules, requirements, and where they got their gear. New players might be able to borrow some pieces to help with the cost while they’re deciding if this is for them.

Depending on your LARP genre, there are several easily accessible websites to help build your character. First look at your LARP group website & forums, there will be suggestions related to the rules and needs specific to your game. Next a quick search for LARP costume, LARP gear, LARP armor, LARP weapons, etc will find you several sites. Costume stores/sites, Walmart, amazon, and other bigger markets. can get you something serviceable in a quick time. Once you’ve decided on LARP as your hobby and you’re looking to move from testing to definitely playing: Etsy, Epic Armory, B3, Holy Clothing, burgschneider.us and MANY others will have genre-specific weapons, armor, props and so on.

Don’t forget about crafting. If you or a friend can break out a sewing machine this can save you quite a bit. Also, thrifting has been a time-honored way to build up your costuming. Pinterest is full of LARP DIY to help with various levels of your skill and direction needed.

Where can I find LARP in the media?

There are a wide variety of LARP examples in movies and TV shows. Not all of these examples are family-friendly, often LARP is confused for tabletop role-playing by those who haven’t read this article yet. Often the examples produced depict LARPers as unsympathetic nerds with poor social skills. LARPing attracts all sorts of people, most of whom are welcoming and enjoy sharing their beloved hobby with others.

Examples

  • Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe
  • Monster Camp
  • Hawkeye
  • Supernatural: LARP and the Real Girl
  • Role Models *not kid appropriate

Conclusion

In conclusion, LARP, or Live Action Role-Playing, is a form of immersive story experience where participants physically act out their character’s actions. It incorporates physical action, improv, cosplay, and roleplay into a single event and can be based in a wide variety of genres. There are two basic types of LARP, Adventure or Boffer LARPs which feature mock combat with foam weapons, and Interactive or Theater LARPs which feature heavy role-play with emotional interaction. LARP can be found through online resources, local gaming and tabletop stores, summer camps, and conventions. With a wide variety of genres and sizes, there is a LARP for everyone to enjoy.


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to both video games and roleplay games: Class

Class refers to a collection of attributes and abilities that define the overall play experience for a character. Class descriptors can either come from within the game itself using its own story and language to provide definition, or the descriptors can come from the community of players. A game that has classes will often include different, but connected styles of play that are encouraged by a choice of class. Class not only describes what a character is, but defines what that character does, and suggests a specific style of play and interaction with other characters.

Examples

  • Healer: In many games these are spell casters who focus on healing magic.
  • Fighter: These characters are proficient in a weapon or many weapons. They focus on taking damage and/or causing damage.
  • Mage: A spell caster, often their spells can be used offensively.
  • Rogue: These characters tend to be sneaky and do well hiding in the shadows.

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You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Every other week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is actually relevant in both the gaming space and elsewhere: Parasocial Relationships.

In the age of the influencer, the line between the audience and the personality on the other end of the camera has become rather blurry. We’re made to feel like the person we’re watching on Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram is our friend, someone that surely must care about us as much as we care about them. In actuality, this one-way parasocial relationship was defined back in the 1950s by psychologists Donald Horton and R. Richard Wohl as the result of television hosts establishing “the illusion of intimacy” and making their fans feel like the broadcast is just for them. 

Parasocial relationships rarely apply to one-off viewers, since they can sometimes treat the person on the other side of the camera with much more detachment. 

Now that we’re interacting with both social media stars and actual celebrities in more ways than not, parasocial relationships have wormed their way into our lives in relatively normal, but sometimes insidious, ways. Streamers and influencers create interactions that feel deeply personal to those that they’re interacting. Parasocial relationships are entirely one-sided, which means that even if you feel particularly attached to a streamer or influencer, they aren’t your friend. It’s not that parasocial relationships are bad. In fact, quite the opposite! There are a number of studies out there that have explored parasocial relationships and their benefits, including for young people finding their own identities and for those with lower self-esteem.

Dr. Rachel Kowert published a great video on this subject. I’ve embedded it below so you can take a look!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Every other week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to video games: Compulsion Loop

Compulsion Loop describes a series of gameplay actions designed to be repeated multiple times. offering feedback in such a way as to encourage constant, continued play and discouraging or penalizing shorter play sessions.

The compulsion loop was first defined in game design by John Hopson, then a researcher at Bungie (now a business intelligence analyst at NCSoft), in a Gamasutra article about Behavioural Game Design. Compulsion loops are often confused with core loops, which is the loop that defines the gameplay experience. However, Adam Crowe defines a compulsion loop as “a habitual, designed chain of activities that will be repeated to gain neurochemical reward: a feeling of pleasure and/or a relief from pain.”

Compulsion loops are composed of three stages: take an action, gain a reward to trigger a biological response with either dopamine or serotonin, and build anticipation.

The key in compulsion loops is the biological response, which is how the game establishes the compulsion. Many mobile and free-to-play (F2P) games have compulsion loops built-in to ensure that players come back over and over again, otherwise known as user retention. It’s important to note that everyone is susceptible to this because of the biological response that the compulsion loops elicit.

For children and vulnerable players, compulsion loops can be particularly challenging to break out of, especially if the rewards might be locked behind paywalls or hefty in-game currency.


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


Video games are often launched in an incomplete state prior to a full release in order to gauge player response and fix problems that would only arise from a large player base that would be otherwise difficult to find. These “Beta Releases” are often defined by whether it is “Open” to all comers or “Closed” and restricted to invitation only.

Fighting Games like Street Fighter and Smash Bros, will often feature a beta test before launch to test online connections and overall game feel from their player community.

Another wildly successful example is Fortnite. It has been around for years at this point, but is still technically in Open Beta.


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


Spawn Location

The areas where players, threats, or resources return to play after being either defeated or collected. Spawn Locations are sometimes marked if they are commonly used during play.

Spawn Camping

Spawn Camping is the behavior, sometimes unintended but often malicious, of staying near or directly on a Spawn Location in an attempt to gain an advantage, either in defeating players or collecting resources.

Spawn Camping in multiplayer games is often considered bad sportsmanship by players.

Example:

There are dedicated spawn locations on Overwatch maps that change as objectives are completed.


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


This week the EFG Staff is going to define (and help explain the different between) Roguelikes and Roguelites.

These two popular genres are VERY similar, but the terms are not interchangable.

They share the same roots as they are inspired by the game “Rogue: Exploring the Dungeons of Doom.”

Rogue is an adventure game where you control a character who is trying to get to the various levels of a dungeon seeking treasure. Sounds normal right?

It is. BUT, the big difference between Rogue and most newer games is that when you die in Rogue you have to start over. No matter what. Every death in the game is permanent.

Rogue!

Roguelike

RogueLIKE games are just what they sound like. They are modern games that are … like rogue. Death is permanent and you don’t get to keep anything when you start over.

Roguelite

RogueLITE games are different because while you are playing you can earn powers, treasures, or currency to help increase your power for subsequent runs. You are able to build your power between runs so that you can move further into the dungeon/castle/whatever on subsequent lives. Example: Rogue Legacy, Dead Cells, Star Renegades

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to both video games and board games: Polyomino.

A Polyomino is a geometric shape made up of a group of equal squares touching on their edges.

These shapes are very important to the game design world because of all the different ways that they can be pieced together into a bigger puzzle.

The best, and most popular, example is Tetris. In Tetris, five different polyominoes that each contain four equal squares (called tetrominoes) fall from the top of the screen. Players are tasked with interlocking them at the bottom of the screen with as few holes as possible. Any complete rows that the player creates are cleared from the board as a reward.

The shapes in Tetris even have names. There was a meme that flew around in the last year or so that came just short of personifying them, but their names are straightforward.

  • Square
  • L
  • Skew
  • T
  • Straight

Polyominoes are also quite popular in the board game space. Part of this is because their shapes make great plastic and cardboard components. Their flat surfaces are also a great place to showcase interesting artwork or bright colors. The design reason is simple. The number of different available shapes is relatively small (especially if they are all made of a smaller number of equal squares), and the number of ways that they can be interlocked is vast. This leads to wide variety in game play situations.

Suggested Activities

Polyominoes are a great learning tool and there are all sorts of activities on the web that you can do with your kids.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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