Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dr. Thursday on Gype (copied from the American Chesterton Society blog)

"It would be quite pleasing at this point to consult a short and simple guide in which Chesterton lists several rules, most of which happen to relate in an ontological sense to Gype, but which he rather pedantically uses to explain how to write a detective story. [It was in G. K.'s Weekly for October 17, 1925, and reprinted in The Spice of Life] The first, of course, is that detective stories are not about darkness, but about light - that is, not about keeping something hidden, but revealing a secret. (Gype is about fun, not about winning.) The second is that the pivot of the detective story, the cardinal, the hinge on which it turns (see Tolkien for deeper meaning of "turn" in fantasy & fairy tales) must be simple. In the same way, any single round, inning, hand or period of Gype, in any of the countless forms it may take, must also be simple, regardless of the cumbersomeness of athletic gear, the size of the board, the variety of its pieces, the number of players, and the rest. Thirdly, the thing must revolve on something familiar, easily forgotten or overlooked, which means why a broom must appear on a football field (No, Harry, for sweeping, not flying) or a queen (Alice asks "of spades? or white?") on a scrabble board.For the fourth, and perhaps most important of all these rules, I must quote GKC directly, and you must bear in mind that it applies to Gype as well as detective stories:
...the fourth principle to be remembered, as in the other cases, people probably will not realize that it is practical, because the principles on which it rests sound theoretical. It rests on the fact that in the classification of the arts, mysterious murders belong to the grand and joyful company of the things called jokes. The story is a fancy; an avowedly fictitious fiction. We may say if we like that it is a very artificial form of art. I should prefer to say that it is professedly a toy, a thing that children 'pretend' wish. From this it follows that the reader, who is a simple child and therefore very wide awake, is conscious not only of the toy but of the invisible playmate who is the maker of the toy, and the author of the trick. The innocent child is very sharp and not a little suspicious.[I gave you the ref. already.]That is, Gype is possible only if it remains what it was founded for: a joke. There will never be a NGL (National Gype League) or offical Gype sportswear. Thank God.Finally, GKC concludes by saying "Every good problem of this type originates in a positive notion, which is in itself a simple notion; some fact of daily life that the writer can remember and the reader can forget. But anyhow, a tale has to be founded on a truth." You can read "that the ref can remember and the player can forget" if you like - provided that the game called Gype is also founded on a truth. Which means, (pace my friend and commentor) that Gype cannot be a matter of absurdity. It belongs to the universe of reason, and hence is the only sport which is Catholic in its essence. (More on that in a future discussion.)If you want better rules for the game, quick, go buy the Collected Works. That's all the more you'll find these days, unless someone locates GKC's and Wells' notes... But by all means, play - and if you do play, please write it up (with full details of the score, etc) and send it to us. The Chesterton University team is ready to defend its title..."

---------Quoted from a Dr. Thursday post

On the Method of Making a Game

1. First, you must put the game into its proper categories and genus. (The Game itself is the species). Ask yourself:

A: Will this game be self-contained, taking no ideas from outside itself (sports, checkers, and card games fall into this category) or will it be based on a concrete reality (Monopoly and Risk fall into this category). I would say that word games are midway between the two categories.

B. If it is concrete or a word game, choose the reality on which it is based. For example, the game called "The Great Battles of Alexander" is based on...guess what. But it is slightly more involved than that, as that particular game is based on the realites of combat at the commander's level. If it is a word game, you already have the reality chosen for you, although we could play in Quenya instead of English. If it a self-contained game, you have to decide on the natures of the things that can be used in the game. For example, soccer requires a thing called a soccer ball, a thing called a soccer field, and two things called goals.

2. Next, decide on the object of the game. There are two types of objects. Quantum objects state that when a player achieves a certain state of game-being or fulfills certain steps in a certain order, they win/lose. Mathematical objects state that when a player demonstrates that they are the best at playing the game, usually by the accumulation of the most points by a certain time, they win.

This object must be translated (Algernon...) into terms relevant to the game. (This can be done by saying that certain things or states of game-being are worth points.) For example, chess has a quantum object that is stated in chess-relevant terms as checkmate. Life has a mathematical object that is stated in life-relevant terms as having the most money (can be seen as points instead of #$'s) by the time every player reaches millionare acres.

3. Next, write the rules. This is the hardest part. In a non-democratic game, I would go about it in this way:

A. In a concrete game, find how the real-life equivalent of the object is obtained and do research into the elements that go into this process. For example, in the game Soldier Kings, the object is to have the most money-giving territories by the end of the game. This translates into money-rich regions of the world in real life. Now in the Seven Years War, in which the game is set, this was done by military conquest and diplomatic wheeling. Both of these depend on a lot of factors, such as liquid assets, population, atttitude of the King of England toward the Doge of Venice, Native American Cannibalism, etc. Translate these back from real life into game terms.
In an self-contained game, you get to make all this stuff up yourself without translating, but i will give an example anyway. In Topple, the object is to gain points. The game makers decided that the method of gaining points is to stack as many discs as possible without toppling the delicately balanced board .

B. In a concrete game, the next step is to decide what elements to keep and how they are expressed in game terms. For example, the play-by-play movements of the squad commanders is not an element included in the World War II game Axis and Allies, but the realites of winning and losing battles are expressed by rolls of the dice applied to a "Combat engine" (I'm sure Dr. Thursday knows what a Combat Engine would be). Because the realites of combat in WWII are different from the realites of combat in the Seven Years War, the combat engine is different in Soldier Kings.
In a self-contained game, the next step is to provide your limitations that increase the game's playablility, fairness, etc. For example, in Topple, you are required to place the discs in dents on the board and the dents you may choose are limited by what roll you throw. You also may place only one disc per turn.

c. In a non-democratic game only, you must test the game and revise the rules. I have tested many games that I have made, and have not liked any of them except when I made Risk based on a map of Ancient Greece. But that time, the rules were all written for me by someone else...

4. Then, play the game!

In a democratic game, the steps are teh same, except that we get to vote on what all the elements are.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gype...not yet

I did a google search for gype, to see if I could find the rules or compile them from all the Original Chestertonian sources. If you type in

"gype chesterton -"Dr. Thursday"" you get about 170 answers.

Paradoxically, if you type in "gype chesterton -"Dr. Thursday" -aaa" you get about 101 answers.

The sites that were excluded when you typed in -aaa were sites that seemed to be lists of all the words there are in alphabetical order.

I also learned that practically the only things you find on google are blogs that mention gype but tell you nothing about it, G.K. Chesterton's autobiography, and Maisie Ward's biography of Chesterton.

I also found:

Lawrence D PO Box 635 Chesterton IN 46304-0635 26421 Andersen Paul Frank ...... Olmsted OH 44070 50920 Gype Lawrence Keith 5980 Whiteford Dr. Highland ...

Apparently, someone has actually played this game within the last 10 years and it involved water pistols as a form of punishment for the outside version and scrabble letters for the inside version.

It is my personal conclusion that gype is a game for which the rules are to be decided democratically by the players. The idea of the game is absurdity. The game is meant to be adapted to the situation. Apparently, Chesterton's sedentary version was meant to be a visual-spatial strategy game. If you can find, in Chesterton's works, more descriptions of the game then the ones I found, I might try to give you a set of real rules.

It is my personal recommendation that we, as the Innocent-Smith style nation of "The Flying-Ins," form our own official set of rules so that we may play it over the internet or take it to the next convention.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thank a computer scientist...

In response to Dr. Thursday's request, I have written a work of verse fiction. Please visit

A Request, a Falsehood and a Wishful Thought

to read it. It is very Chestertonian.