Board game design
Board Game design
Game design is the art of applying design and aesthetics to create a game to facilitate interaction between players for entertainment or for educational, exercise, or experimental purposes. Game design can be applied both to games and, increasingly, to other interactions, particularly virtual ones (see gamification).
Game design creates goals, rules, and challenges to define a sport, tabletop game, casino game, video game, role-playing game, or simulation that produces desirable interactions among its participants and, possibly, spectators.
Academically, game design is part of game studies, while game theory studies strategic decision making (primarily in non-game situations). Games have historically inspired seminal research in the fields of probability, artificial intelligence, economics, and optimization theory. Applying game design to itself is a current research topic in metadesign.
Sports (see history of sports), gambling, and board games are known, respectively, to have existed for at least nine thousand, six thousand, and four thousand years.
Folk process Edit
Tabletop games played today whose descent can be traced from ancient times include chess, go, pachisi, backgammon, mahjong, mancala, and pick-up sticks. The rules of these games were not codified until early modern times and their features gradually evolved and changed over time, through the folk process. Given this, these games are not considered to have had a designer or been the result of a design process in the modern sense.
After the rise of commercial game publishing in the late 19th century, many games which had formerly evolved via folk processes became commercial properties, often with custom scoring pads or preprepared material. For example, the similar public domain games Generala, Yacht, and Yatzy led to the commercial game Yahtzee in the mid-1950s.
Today, many commercial games, such as Taboo, Balderdash, Pictionary, or Time’s Up!, are descended from traditional parlour games. Adapting traditional games to become commercial properties is an example of game design.
Similarly, many sports, such as soccer and baseball, are the result of folk processes, while others were designed, such as basketball, invented in 1891 by James Naismith.
New media Edit
Technological advances have provided new media for games throughout history.
The printing press allowed packs of playing cards, adapted from Mahjong tiles, to be mass-produced, leading to many new card games. Accurate topographic maps produced as lithographs and provided free to Prussian officers helped popularize wargaming. Cheap bookbinding (printed labels wrapped around cardboard) led to mass-produced board games with custom boards. Inexpensive (hollow) lead figurine casting contributed to the development of miniature wargaming. Cheap custom dice led to poker dice. Flying discs led to disc golf and Ultimate. Personal computers contributed to the popularity of computer games, leading to the wide availability of video game consoles and video games. Smart phones have led to a proliferation of mobile games.
The first games in a new medium are frequently adaptations of older games. Pong, one of the first widely disseminated video games, adapted table tennis. Later games will often exploit distinctive properties of a new medium. Adapting older games and creating original games for new media are both examples of game design.
Main article: Game studies
Game studies or gaming theory is a discipline that deals with the critical study of games, game design, players, and their role in society and culture. Prior to the late-twentieth century, the academic study of games was rare and limited to fields such as history and anthropology. As the video game revolution took off in the early 1980s, so did academic interest in games, resulting in a field that draws on diverse methodologies and schools of thought. These influences may be characterized broadly in three ways: the social science approach, the humanities approach, and the industry and engineering approach.
Broadly speaking, the social scientific approach has concerned itself with the question of “What do games do to people?” Using tools and methods such as surveys, controlled laboratory experiments, and ethnography researchers have investigated both the positive and negative impacts that playing games could have on people. More sociologically informed research has sought to move away from simplistic ideas of gaming as either ‘negative’ or ‘positive’, but rather seeking to understand its role and location in the complexities of everyday life.
In general terms, the humanities approach has concerned itself with the question of “What meanings are made through games?” Using tools and methods such as interviews, ethnographies and participant observation, researchers have investigated the various roles that videogames play in people’s lives and activities together with the meaning they assign to their experiences.
From an industry perspective, a lot of game studies research can be seen as the academic response to the videogame industry’s questions regarding the products it creates and sells. The main question this approach deals with can be summarized as “How can we create better games?” with the accompanying “What makes a game good?” “Good” can be taken to mean many different things, including providing an entertaining and an engaging experience, being easy to learn and play, and being innovative and having novel experiences. Different approaches to studying this problem have included looking at describing how to design games and extracting guidelines and rules of thumb for making better games
Strategic decision making Edit
Main article: Game theory
Game theory is a study of strategic decision making. Specifically, it is “the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers”. An alternative term suggested “as a more descriptive name for the discipline” is interactive decision theory. The subject first addressed zero-sum games, such that one person’s gains exactly equal net losses of the other participant or participants. Today, however, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and has developed into an umbrella term for the logical side of decision science.
The games studied in game theory are well-defined mathematical objects. To be fully defined, a game must specify the following elements: the players of the game, the information and actions available to each player at each decision point, and the payoffs for each outcome. (Rasmusen refers to these four “essential elements” by the acronym “PAPI”.) A game theorist typically uses these elements, along with a solution concept of their choosing, to deduce a set of equilibrium strategies for each player such that, when these strategies are employed, no player can profit by unilaterally deviating from their strategy. These equilibrium strategies determine an equilibrium to the game—a stable state in which either one outcome occurs or a set of outcomes occur with known probability.
Design elements Edit
Games can be characterized by “what the player does.” This is often referred to as gameplay. Major key elements identified in this context are tools and rules that define the overall context of game.
Tools of play Edit
Games are often classified by the components required to play them (e.g. miniatures, a ball, cards, a board and pieces, or a computer). In places where the use of leather is well established, the ball has been a popular game piece throughout recorded history, resulting in a worldwide popularity of ball games such as rugby, basketball, football, cricket, tennis, and volleyball. Other tools are more idiosyncratic to a certain region. Many countries in Europe, for instance, have unique standard decks of playing cards. Other games such as chess may be traced primarily through the development and evolution of its game pieces.
Many game tools are tokens, meant to represent other things. A token may be a pawn on a board, play money, or an intangible item such as a point scored.
Games such as hide-and-seek or tag do not utilise any obvious tool; rather, their interactivity is defined by the environment. Games with the same or similar rules may have different gameplay if the environment is altered. For example, hide-and-seek in a school building differs from the same game in a park; an auto race can be radically different depending on the track or street course, even with the same cars.
Rule development Edit
See also: Game mechanics, gameplay, and balance (game design)
Whereas games are often characterized by their tools, they are often defined by their rules. While rules are subject to variations and changes, enough change in the rules usually results in a “new” game. There are exceptions to this in that some games deliberately involve the changing of their own rules, but even then there are often immutable meta-rules.
Rules generally determine turn order, the rights and responsibilities of the players, each player’s goals, and how game components interact with each other in to produce changes in a game’s state. Player rights may include when they may spend resources or move tokens.
Victory conditions Edit
Common win conditions are being first to amass a certain quota of points or tokens (as in Settlers of Catan), having the greatest number of tokens at the end of the game (as in Monopoly), some relationship of one’s game tokens to those of one’s opponent (as in chess’s checkmate), or reaching a certain point in a storyline (as in most roleplay-games).
Single or multiplayer Edit
Most games require multiple players. Single-player games are unique in respect to the type of challenges a player faces. Unlike a game with multiple players competing with or against each other to reach the game’s goal, a single-player game is against an element of the environment, against one’s own skills, against time, or against chance. This is also true of cooperative games, in which multiple players share a common goal and win or lose together.
Many games described as “single-player” or “cooperative” could alternatively be described as puzzles or recreations, in that they do not involve strategic behavior (as defined by game theory), in which the expected reaction of an opponent to a possible move becomes a factor in choosing which move to make.
Games against opponents simulated with artificial intelligence differ from other single-player games in that the algorithms used usually do incorporate strategic behavior.
Storyline and plot Edit
Stories told in games may focus on narrative elements that can be communicated through the use of mechanics and player choice. Narrative plots in games generally have a clearly defined and simplistic structure. Mechanical choices on the part of the designer(s) often drastically effect narrative elements in the game. However, due to a lack of unified and standardized teaching and understanding of narrative elements in games, individual interpretations, methods, and terminology vary wildly. Because of this, most narrative elements in games are created unconsciously and intuitively. However, as a general rule, game narratives increase in complexity and scale as player choice or game mechanics increase in complexity and scale. One example of this is removing a players ability to directly affect the plot for a limited time. This lack of player choice necessitates an increase in mechanical complexity, and could be used as a metaphor to symbolize depression that is felt by a character in the narrative.
Luck and strategy Edit
A game’s tools and rules will result in its requiring skill, strategy, luck, or a combination thereof, and are classified accordingly.
Games of skill include games of physical skill, such as wrestling, tug of war, hopscotch, target shooting, and horseshoes, and games of mental skill such as checkers and chess. Games of strategy include checkers, chess, go, arimaa, and tic-tac-toe, and often require special equipment to play them. Games of chance include gambling games (blackjack, mah-jongg, roulette, etc.), as well as snakes and ladders and rock, paper, scissors; most require equipment such as cards or dice.
Most games contain two or all three of these elements. For example, American football and baseball involve both physical skill and strategy while tiddlywinks, poker, and Monopoly combine strategy and chance. Many card and board games combine all three; most trick-taking games involve mental skill, strategy, and an element of chance, as do many strategic board games such as Risk, Settlers of Catan, and Carcassonne.
Use as educational tool Edit
Further information: Learning through play
By learning through play[a] children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments. Key ways that young children learn include playing, being with other people, being active, exploring and new experiences, talking to themselves, communication with others, meeting physical and mental challenges, being shown how to do new things, practicing and repeating skills and having fun.
Play develops children’s content knowledge and provides children the opportunity to develop social skills, competences and disposition to learn. Play-based learning is based on a Vygotskian model of scaffolding where the teacher pays attention on specific elements of the play activity and provides encouragement and feedback on children’s learning. When children engage in real-life and imaginary activities, play can be challenging in children’s thinking. To extend the learning process, sensitive intervention can be provided with adult support when necessary during play-based learning.
Development process Edit
Game design is part of a game’s development from concept to its final form. Typically, the development process is an iterative process, with repeated phases of testing and revision. During revision, additional design or re-design may be needed.
Development team Edit
Game designer Edit
A game designer (or inventor) is the person who invents a game’s concept, its central mechanisms, and its rules.
Often, the game designer also invents the game’s title and, if the game isn’t abstract, its theme. Sometimes these activities are done by the game publisher, not the designer, or may be dictated by a licensed property (such as when designing a game based on a film).
Game developer Edit
A game developer is the person who fleshes out the details of a game’s design, oversees its testing, and revises the game in response to player feedback.
Often the game designer is also its developer, although some publishers do extensive development of games to suit their particular target audience after licensing a game from a designer. For larger games, such as collectible card games and most video games, a team is used and the designer and developer roles are usually split among multiple people.
Game artist Edit
Main article: Game artist
A game artist is an artist who creates art for one or more types of games.
Many graphic elements of games are created by the designer when producing a prototype of the game, revised by the developer based on testing, and then further refined by the artist and combined with artwork as a game is prepared for publication or release.
For video games, game artists are responsible for all of the aspects of game development that call for visual art. Game artists are often vital to and credited in role-playing games, collectible card games and video games.
A game concept is an idea for a game, briefly describing its core play mechanisms, who the players represent, and how they win or lose.
A game concept may be “pitched” to a game publisher in a similar manner as film ideas are pitched to potential film producers. Alternatively, game publishers holding a game license to intellectual property in other media may solicit game concepts from several designers before picking one to design a game, typically paying the designer in advance against future royalties.
During design, a game concept is fleshed out. Mechanisms are specified in terms of components (boards, cards, on-screen entities, etc.) and rules. The play sequence and possible player actions are defined, as well as how the game starts, ends, and what is its winning condition. In video games, storyboards and screen mockups may be created.
A game prototype is a draft version of a game used for testing. Typically, creating a prototype marks the shift from game design to game development and testing.
Game testing is a major part of game development. During testing, players play the game and provide feedback on its gameplay, the usability of its components or screen elements, the clarity of its goals and rules, ease of learning, and enjoyment to the game developer. The developer then revises the design, its components, presentation, and rules before testing it again. Later testing may take place with focus groups to test consumer reactions before publication.
During testing, various balance issues may be identified, requiring changes to the game’s design.
Video game testing is a software testing process for quality control of video games. The primary function of game testing is the discovery and documentation of software defects (aka bugs). Interactive entertainment software testing is a highly technical field requiring computing expertise, analytic competence, critical evaluation skills, and endurance.
Different types of games pose different game design issues.
Board games Edit
Charles Darrow’s 1935 patent for Monopoly includes specific design elements developed during the prototype phase. Prototypes are very common in the later stages of board game design, and “prototype circles” in many cities today provide an opportunity for designers to play and critique each other’s games.
Board game design is the development of rules and presentational aspects of a board game. When a player takes part in a game, it is the player’s self-subjection to the rules that creates a sense of purpose for the duration of the game. Maintaining the players’ interest throughout the gameplay experience is the goal of board game design. To achieve this, board game designers emphasize different aspects such as social interaction, strategy, and competition, and target players of differing needs by providing for short versus long-play, and luck versus skill. Beyond this, board game design reflects the culture in which the board game is produced.
The most ancient board games known today are over 5000 years old. They are frequently abstract in character and their design is primarily focused on a core set of simple rules. Of those that are still played today, games like go (c.400BC), mancala (c.700AD), and chess (c.600AD) have gone through many presentational and/or rule variations. In the case of chess, for example, new variants are developed constantly, to focus on certain aspects of the game, or just for variation’s sake.
Traditional board games date from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Whereas ancient board game design was primarily focused on rules alone, traditional board games were often influenced by Victorian mores. Academic (e.g. history and geography) and moral didacticism were important design features for traditional games, and Puritan associations between dice and the Devil meant that early American game designers eschewed their use in board games entirely. Even traditional games that did use dice, like Monopoly (based on the 1906 The Landlord’s Game), were rooted in educational efforts to explain political concepts to the masses. By the 1930s and 1940s, board game design began to emphasize amusement over education, and characters from comic strips, radio programmes, and (in the 1950s) television shows began to be featured in board game adaptations.
Recent developments in modern board game design can be traced to the 1980s in Germany, and have led to increased popularity of “German-style board games” (also known as “Eurogames” or “designer games”). The design emphasis of these board games is to give players meaningful choices. This is manifested by eliminating elements like randomness and luck to be replaced by skill, strategy, and resource competition, by removing the potential for players to fall irreversibly behind in the early stages of a game, and by reducing the number of rules and possible player options to produce what Alan R. Moon has described as “elegant game design”. The concept of elegant game design has been identified by The Boston Globe’s Leon Neyfakh as related to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” from his 1990 book, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”.
Modern technological advances have had a democratizing effect on board game production, with services like Kickstarter providing designers with essential startup capital and tools like 3D printers facilitating the production of game pieces and board game prototypes. A modern adaptation of figure games are miniature wargames like Warhammer 40,000.
Card games Edit
Card games include games with cards that are custom-tailored to the game, as in many modern games, as well as those whose design is constricted by the type of the deck of cards, like Tarot or the four-suited Latin decks. Card games can be played for fun, such as Go Fish, or as gambling games, such as Poker.
In Asian cultures, special sets of tiles can serve the same function as cards, as in mahjong, a game similar to (and thought to be the distant ancestor of) the Western card game rummy. Western dominoes games are believed to have developed from Asian tile games in the 18th century.
Magic: The Gathering was the first collectible card game (or “trading card game”) in 1993.
The line between card and board games is not clear-cut, as many card games, such as solitaire, involve playing cards to form a “tableau”, a spatial layout or board. Many board games, in turn, uses specialized cards to provide random events, such as the Chance cards of Monopoly (game), or as the central mechanism driving play, as in many card-driven wargames.
As cards are typically shuffled and revealed gradually during play, most card games involve randomness, either initially or during play, and hidden information, such as the cards in a player’s hand. This is in contrast to many board games, in which most of the game’s current state is visible to all participants, even though players may also have a small amount of private information, such as the letter tiles on each player’s rack during Scrabble.
How players play their cards, revealing information and interacting with previous plays as they do so, is central to card game design. In partnership card games, such as Bridge, rules limiting communication between players on the same team become an important part of the game design. This idea of limited communication has been extended to cooperative card games, such as Hanabi.
Dice games Edit
A set of poker dice and a dice cup
Dice games are among the oldest known games and have often been associated with gambling. The oldest known dice game is a backgammon set that was discovered by archaeologists excavating the site of the Burnt City, which was abandoned in 2100 BC. Non-gambling dice games, such as Yatzy, Poker dice, or Yahtzee became popular in the mid-20th century.
The line between dice and board games is not clear-cut, as dice are often used as randomization devices in board games, such as Monopoly or Risk, while serving as the central drivers of play in games such as Backgammon or Pachisi.
Dice games differ from card games in that each throw of the dice is an independent event, whereas the odds of a given card being drawn is affected by all the previous cards drawn or revealed from a deck. Dice game design often centers around forming scoring combinations and managing re-rolls, either by limiting their number, as in Yahtzee, or by introducing a press-your-luck element, as in Can’t Stop.
Casino games Edit
See also: House edge
All casino games are designed to mathematically favor the house. The house edge for a slot machine can range widely between 2 and 15 percent.
Casino game design can entail the creation of an entirely new casino game, the creation of a variation on an existing casino game, or the creation of a new side bet on an existing casino game.
Casino game mathematician, Michael Shackleford has noted that it is much more common for casino game designers today to make successful variations than entirely new casino games. Gambling columnist John Grochowski points to the emergence of community-style slot machines in the mid-1990s, for example, as a successful variation on an existing casino game type.
Unlike the majority of other games which are designed primarily in the interest of the player, one of the central aims of casino game design is to optimize the house advantage and maximize revenue from gamblers. Successful casino game design works to provide entertainment for the player and revenue for the gambling house.
To maximise player entertainment, casino games are designed with simple easy-to-learn rules that emphasize winning (i.e. whose rules enumerate many victory conditions and few loss conditions), and that provide players with a variety of different gameplay postures (e.g. card hands). Player entertainment value is also enhanced by providing gamblers with familiar gaming elements (e.g. dice and cards) in new casino games.
To maximise success for the gambling house, casino games are designed to be easy for croupiers to operate and for pit managers to oversee.
The two most fundamental rules of casino game design is that the games must be non-fraudable (including being as nearly as possible immune from advantage gambling), and that they must mathematically favor the house winning. Shackleford suggests that the optimum casino game design should give the house an edge of smaller than 5%.
Role-playing games Edit
See also: List of role-playing game designers
The design of role-playing games requires the establishment of setting, characters, and basic gameplay rules or mechanics. After a role-playing game is produced, additional design elements are often devised by the players themselves. In many instances, for example, character creation is left to the players. Likewise, the progression of a role-playing game is determined in large part by the gamemaster whose individual campaign design may be directed by one of several role-playing game theories.
There is no central core for tabletop role-playing game theory because different people want such different things out of the games. Probably the most famous category of RPG theory, GNS Theory assumes that people want one of three things out of the game – a better, more interestingly challenging game, to create a more interesting story, or a better simulation – in other words better rules to support worldbuilding. GNS Theory has been abandoned by its creator, partly because it neglects emotional investment, and partly because it just didn’t work properly. There are techniques that people use (such as dice pools) to better create the game they want – but with no consistent goal or agreement for what makes for a good game there’s no overarching theory generally agreed on.
Sports games are made with the same rules as the sport the game portrays.[clarification needed]
Video games Edit
Main article: Video game design
Video game prototypes created during the pre-production design phase are often used as a proof of concept for the implementation of new rules or gameplay features.
Video game design is a process that takes place in the pre-production phase of video game development. In the video game industry, game design describes the creation of the content and rules of a video game. The goal of this process for the game designer is to provide players with the opportunity to make meaningful decisions in relation to playing the game. Elements of video game design such as the establishment of fundamental gameplay rules provide a framework within which players will operate, while the addition of narrative structures provide players with a reason to care about playing the game. To establish the rules and narrative, an internally consistent game world is created, requiring visual, audio, and programming development for world, character, and level design. The amount of work that is required to accomplish this often demands the use of a design team which may be divided into smaller game design disciplines. In order to maintain internal consistency between the teams, a specialized software design document known as a “game design document” (and sometimes an even broader scope “game bible” document) provides overall contextual guidance on ambient mood, appropriate tone, and other less tangible aspects of the game world.
An important aspect of video game design is human-computer interaction and game feel.
War games Edit
H. G. Wells playing Little Wars
The first military war games, or Kriegsspiel, were designed in Prussia in the 19th century to train staff officers. They are also played as a hobby for entertainment.
Modern war games are designed to test doctrines, strategies and tactics in full scale exercises with opposing forces at venues like the NTC, JRTC and the JMRC, involving NATO countries.
See also Edit
Video game design
^ a term used in education and psychology to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them
^ Hartsell, Jeff., Wrestling ‘in our blood,’ says Bulldogs’ Luvsandorj, 17 March 2011
^ Bose, M. L. (1998). Social And Cultural History Of Ancient India (revised & Enlarged Edition). Concept Publishing Company. p. 179. ISBN 978-81-7022-598-0.
^ Soubeyrand, Catherine. “The Game of Senet”. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
A Bradel binding (also called a bonnet or bristol board binding, a German Case binding, or in French as Cartonnage à la Bradel or en gist) is a style of book binding with a hollow back. It most resembles a case binding in that it has a hollow back and visible joint, but unlike a case binding, it is built up on the book. Characteristic of the binding is the material covering the outside boards is separate from the material covering the spine. Many bookbinders consider the Bradel binding to be stronger than a case binding.
The binding may be traced to 18th century Germany. The originator of the binding is uncertain, but the name comes from a French binder working in Germany, Alexis-Pierre Bradel (also known as Bradel l’ainé or Bradel-Derome). The binding originally appeared as a temporary binding, but the results were durable, and the binding had great success in the nineteenth century. Today, it is most likely to be encountered in photo albums and scrapbooks.
The binding has the advantage of allowing the book to open fully, where traditional leather bindings are too rigid. It is sometimes modified to provide a rounded spine. This lends the appearance of a book where the paper is not suited to spine rounding; this is also to provide a rounded spine to a book too thin for a spine rounding to hold. The binding may also provide an impressive-looking leather spine to a book without incurring the full expense of binding a book in full or partial leather.
Origins of the book Edit
The binding of a Chinese bamboo book (Sun Tzu’s The Art of War)
The craft of bookbinding probably originated in India, where religious sutras were copied on to palm leaves (cut into two, lengthwise) with a metal stylus. The leaf was then dried and rubbed with ink, which would form a stain in the wound. The finished leaves were given numbers, and two long twines were threaded through each end through wooden boards, making a palm-leaf book. When the book was closed, the excess twine would be wrapped around the boards to protect the manuscript leaves. Buddhist monks took the idea through Afghanistan to China in the first century BC.
Similar techniques can also be found in ancient Egypt where priestly texts were compiled on scrolls and books of papyrus. Another version of bookmaking can be seen through the ancient Mayan codex; only four are known to have survived the Spanish invasion of Latin America.
Writers in the Hellenistic-Roman culture wrote longer texts as scrolls; these were stored in boxes or shelving with small cubbyholes, similar to a modern winerack. Court records and notes were written on wax tablets, while important documents were written on papyrus or parchment. The modern English word book comes from the Proto-Germanic *bokiz, referring to the beechwood on which early written works were recorded.
The book was not needed in ancient times, as many early Greek texts—scrolls—were 30 pages long, which were customarily folded accordion-fashion to fit into the hand. Roman works were often longer, running to hundreds of pages. The Greeks used to call their books tome, meaning “to cut”. The Egyptian Book of the Dead was a massive 200 pages long and was used in funerary services for the deceased. Torah scrolls, editions of the Jewish holy book, were—and still are—also held in special holders when read.
Scrolls can be rolled in one of two ways. The first method is to wrap the scroll around a single core, similar to a modern roll of paper towels. While simple to construct, a single core scroll has a major disadvantage: in order to read text at the end of the scroll, the entire scroll must be unwound. This is partially overcome in the second method, which is to wrap the scroll around two cores, as in a Torah. With a double scroll, the text can be accessed from both beginning and end, and the portions of the scroll not being read can remain wound. This still leaves the scroll a sequential-access medium: to reach a given page, one generally has to unroll and re-roll many other pages.
Early book formats Edit
In addition to the scroll, wax tablets were commonly used in Antiquity as a writing surface. Diptychs and later polyptych formats were often hinged together along one edge, analogous to the spine of modern books, as well as a folding concertina format. Such a set of simple wooden boards sewn together was called by the Romans a codex (pl. codices)—from the Latin word caudex, meaning ‘the trunk’ of a tree, around the first century AD. Two ancient polyptychs, a pentaptych and octoptych, excavated at Herculaneum employed a unique connecting system that presages later sewing on thongs or cords.
At the turn of the first century, a kind of folded parchment notebook called pugillares membranei in Latin, became commonly used for writing in the Roman Empire. This term was used by both the pagan poet Martial and Christian apostle Paul the Apostle. Martial used the term with reference to gifts of literature exchanged by Romans during the festival of Saturnalia. According to T. C. Skeat, “…in at least three cases and probably in all, in the form of codices” and he theorized that this form of notebook was invented in Rome and then “…must have spread rapidly to the Near East…” In his discussion of one of the earliest pagan parchment codices to survive from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, Eric Turner seems to challenge Skeat’s notion when stating “…its mere existence is evidence that this book form had a prehistory” and that “early experiments with this book form may well have taken place outside of Egypt.”
Early intact codices were discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. Consisting of primarily Gnostic texts in Coptic, the books were mostly written on papyrus, and while many are single-quire, a few are multi-quire. Codices were a significant improvement over papyrus or vellum scrolls in that they were easier to handle. However, despite allowing writing on both sides of the leaves, they were still foliated—numbered on the leaves, like the Indian books. The idea spread quickly through the early churches, and the word Bible comes from the town where the Byzantine monks established their first scriptorium, Byblos, in modern Lebanon. The idea of numbering each side of the page—Latin pagina, “to fasten”—appeared when the text of the individual testaments of the Bible were combined and text had to be searched through more quickly. This book format became the preferred way of preserving manuscript or printed material.
Coptic binding or Coptic sewing comprises methods of bookbinding employed by early Christians in Egypt, the Copts, and used from as early as the 2nd century AD to the 11th century. The term is also used to describe modern bindings sewn in the same style.
Coptic bindings, the first true codices, are characterized by one or more sections of parchment, papyrus, or paper sewn through their folds, and (if more than one section) attached to each other with chain stitch linkings across the spine, rather than to the thongs or cords running across the spine that characterise European bindings from the 8th century onwards. In practice, the phrase “Coptic binding” usually refers to multi-section bindings, while single-section Coptic codices are often referred to as “Nag Hammadi bindings,” after the 13 codices found in 1945 which exemplify the form.
Nag Hammadi bindings Edit
Nag Hammadi bindings were constructed with a textblock of papyrus sheets, assembled into a single section and trimmed along the fore edge after folding to prevent the inner sheets from extending outward beyond the outer sheets. Because the inner sheets were narrower than the outer sheets after trimming, the width of text varied through the textblock, and it is likely that the papyrus was not written on until after it was bound; this, in turn, would have made it a necessity to calculate the number of sheets needed for a manuscript before it was written and bound. Covers of Nag Hammadi bindings were limp leather, stiffened with waste sheets of papyrus. The textblocks were sewn with tackets, with leather stays along the inside fold as reinforcement. These tackets also secured the textblock to the covers; on some of the Nag Hammadi bindings, the tackets extended to the outside of the covering leather, while on others the tackets were attached to a strip of leather which served as a spine liner, and which was in turn pasted to the covers. A flap, either triangular or rectangular, extended from the front cover of the book, and was wrapped around the fore edge of the book when closed. Attached to the flap was a long leather thong which was wrapped around the book two or three times, and which served as a clasp to keep the book securely shut.
Multi-section Coptic bindings
Detail of Coptic-style sewing (model)
Multi-section Coptic bindings had cover boards that were initially composed of layers of papyrus, though by the 4th century, wooden boards were also frequent. Leather covering was also common by the 4th century, and all subsequent Western decorated leather bindings descend from Coptic bindings.
Approximately 120 original and complete Coptic bindings survive in the collections of museums and libraries, though the remnants of as many as 500 Coptic bindings survive.
The few surviving very early European bindings to survive use the Coptic sewing technique, notably the St Cuthbert Gospel in the British Library (c. 698) and the Cadmug Gospels at Fulda (c. 750)
Modern Coptic bindings
Modern Coptic bindings can be made with or without covering leather; if left uncovered, a Coptic binding is able to open 360°. If the leather is omitted, a Coptic binding is non-adhesive, and does not require any glue in its construction.
Artisans and crafters often use coptic binding when creating hand made art journals or other books.
Coptic binding: a method of sewing leaves/pages together
Coptic binding: a method of sewing leaves/pages together
The Ethiopian bookbinding technique is a chain stitch sewing that looks similar to the multi section Coptic binding method. According to J. A. Szirmai, the chain stitch binding dates from about the sixteenth century in Ethiopia. These books typically had paired sewing stations, sewn using two needles for each pair of sewing stations (so if there are 2 holes, use 2 needles…or 6 holes, 6 needles etc.). The covers were wooden and attached by sewing through holes made into edge of the board. Most of these books were left uncovered without endbands.
Islamic Design Principles
Shirin Neshat (Iranian feminist photographer)
United Arab Emirates
There are different types of OHP transparencies:
- Smooth finish on both sides: meant for simple writing or drawing – smearing or marker pen
- Textured surface on one side: different types for inkjet, laser and screenprinting. These give a more varied line and/or hold ink better on the textured side.
Layering to intensify colours and/or juxtapositions
My original intention in experimenting with OHP transparencies was to see if they intensified the colours either in themselves and/or when overlaid on top of paper copies of the same images. In general this was the case. But I also found that reversing the transparency image and/or putting it on top of another image could lead to very interesting juxtapositions and/or new ideas for the image that could then be further scanned and reprinted.
Printing on the ‘wrong side’
My first ‘accident’ was that I could not remember which side to print on, and automatically assumed it would be the smooth side. This produced some really interesting blurry puddled images as the ink did not dry immediately, but moved around on the slide.
The second related accident was that I did not realise the ink was not dry and many of the images were placed on top of each other. This led to smearing on either the slide and/or the image on which it was placed. In some cases this led to very interesting textures and/or juxtapositions.
As I played around with the images, some invariably became scratched. This produced some interesting ‘distressed effects’. It also opens the possibility for scratch drawing.
Working on both sides and overlaying
This is a further possibility that can yield atmospheric effects. Media like oil pastel can be made grainy or smeared. In ‘Letter O’ this was not so successful in smearing. But these techniques can be further developed. Either drawing on both sides, laying one OHP on top of the other and/or digital compositing.
If the slides are slightly separated then it is possible to get a 3D effect and create depth.