Sprouts is a nodal game invented by the mathematicians John Horton Conway and Michael S. Paterson that is referenced in Tabletop Game Design for Video Game Designers. What makes the game unusual is that instead of playing within an existing set of nodes and paths, the players create their own.
In Rules of Play, Salen & Zimmerman describe Marc LeBlanc’s 3-to-15 game. Its rules are:
- Two players alternate turns.
- A player’s turn consists of picking a number between 1 and 9.
- No number can be picked more than once.
- If any three of the numbers picked by a player add up to 15, the player wins the game.
3-to-15 shares the same underlying mechanics as Tic-Tac-Toe (per the image to the right), even though its written rules are entirely different. Try playing a few games of 3-to-15. Is it the same game as Tic-Tac-Toe, or do you think the differing ways the games are presented results in them being truly different games?