Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
What is a player?
Players may compete individually, or in aggregates known as teams which normally win or lose as a whole. Players may be human, or may be the result of artificial intelligence. In the latter case, these "computer players" are normally given the same play options as human players, and a level of skill pre-determined by the programmer and bound by the limitations of said artificial intelligence.
There is some controversy over what constitutes a player, especially in computerized situations. For example, is the gamemaster in a role-playing game also a player? Is the computer in a computer game also a player of the game, is it a moderator, or is it simply the medium? These questions are not easily answered.
Players in competition
In most games, one player (or team) is declared the winner, the player who performed the best. Some multi-player games can have multiple winners, but in Western societies, one player (or team) is normally considered to be the "1st place", or best, among them, and ensure the existence of tie-breaking structures to ensure a singular "1st place". This is not true universally; for example, in Japan ties are considered to be wins for both sides. Some games use multiple means of scoring or determining the conditions of victory; in these games, it may be possible for two or more players or teams to simultaneously win, which, depending on the game, may be counted as wins for both or simply a tie.
Number of players
There is a wide range to the number of players who may take part in a game. While most board games and card games have fewer than 10 players, for logistical reasons, tournaments, or meta-games consisting of many games, can have over 1000. Internet games may have thousands of players participating in a massive game simultaneously. Alternately, John Conway's game of Life is considered to be a zero-player game.
The number of players that a game allows is an important factor in game design. Game designers aim to accommodate as wide a range of player numbers as possible, since, for example, a strictly four-player game will not happily accommodate three or five players who want to play. Some have argued that much of Poker's popularity derives from how readily the game adapts to as few as 2 or as many as 10 players.
Games adapt themselves to varying numbers of players in a number of different ways:
- Gin rummy, which cannot easily be adapted for two players, uses a structure for three whereby two participate in a round, one sitting out. Specifically, the winner of the previous round remains in the next, while the loser sits out. (Four players would split into two games.)
- Hearts, for six or more players, is traditionally played double-deck, with a cancellation mechanism.
- Poker and other vying games easily adapt themselves to varying play number, as soon as there are enough cards. For example, seven-card stud poker clearly cannot accommodate eight or more players with one deck.
- Puerto Rico varies the number of game tokens and round structure to accommodate variations in player number.
- Role-playing games can be adapted easily according to player number, limited only by the willingness of the gamemaster. Four to six players is often claimed to be the "best" number of players, although this is quite contested.
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