Should You Add House Rules to Your Games?

House Rules

You’re playing a game, but something irks you. There is a rule that just seems to make no sense to you. What were the designers thinking? Did they even playtest this at all? This seems to be an all too regular problem. All players have differing preferences for games and no rule is going to appeal to all players. So what should you do? Should you just trade away/donate the game or do you have the right to rectify the rule that doesn’t appeal to your particular group?

This is an issue that comes up a lot in board game circles. There are two prevailing viewpoints: one view is that game designers work to create some work of art and it is not fair to change it to match our preferences while the alternative viewpoint is that when a consumer purchases something they have all right to do with it what they so please.

1) We Should Not “Fix” The Rules of a Published Game

When designing a game there is definitely always a deep-seated fear that people will not enjoy the product. Every negative review on BoardGameGeek or Amazon is like a shot to the heart. Designing a game takes months to years of work, time, energy, and effort. Someone taking apart a game that took years to develop definitely might be tough.

Additionally, for non-designers trying to fix an element of a game that they do not like might actually work to b counter productive and develop new issues within the game. A designer and publisher could definitely be opposed to this, especially if the game is intentionally being played wrong without informing other players. If players dislike the version of the game that another player crafted to “fix it” they might never give the actual game a shot.

 2) We Bought It. We Fix It.

 A contrary belief is that when a consumer purchases a product they should do with it as they please. If you buy a game for $60 and dislike only one rule and otherwise love the game it wouldn’t make sense to simply never play the game instead of the alternative of changing a minor rule.

Those that oppose this viewpoint seem to feel that artistic creations should never be changed. Though, in other industries revising an artistic creation to better suit your needs is not particularly controversial. Even in the video game industry gamers commonly “mod” games to fit their preferences better.

Conclusion:

There are several reasons for each of the prevailing viewpoints on house rules. It seems that the issue is widely debated and that a multitude of board gamers face contrary views.

What do you think?

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