1. Freshness: Good design borrows; great design steals. All design builds on designs of the past, but great design has something that feels entirely new. Dominion caught a lot of attention because it was the first game to successfully turn deck building into a game all by itself.
2. Intrigue: A game needs a mystery to solve or a puzzle to work out. This is inherent in strategy games, but present in other games as well. Trivia games are still wildly popular because people love the sensation of figuring something out.
3. Variety: There’s an ancient Chinese proverb I just made up that says a monkey can shave a drunkard 10 times before it’s no longer funny. Games lose their luster if you see the same stuff every time. Magic the Gathering, king of collectible card games, offers near limitless variety.
4. Elegance: I don’t mean it dances well and looks pretty in a dress, though bonus points if it does. Elegance in design is about using a little to do a lot. Great depth in a simple to understand package. It takes 10 minutes to learn the rules of Chess and a lifetime to master it.
5. Fun: Like the old line about pornography, fun is hard to define but you know it when you see it. Fun is personal. It’s the spark that makes you smile. Despite a rather dull and uninteresting set of rules, Monopoly has survived the ages because it taps in to the fun of being rich.
So there they are, the 5 factors of cool. You’ll note they make a snappy pneumonic acronym FIVE F. True, I had to use the slightly “dude that’s awesome” surfer term of “freshness” to make it happen, but “originality” would have made the acronym FIVE O and I am not the game police. These are the categories I will be using to tell you about games in the future and whether or not those games measure up to something worth playing. Let me know what ya think.
Next time on Cool Factor 5: The game 7 Wonders and how it holds up to the Five Factors.