Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Should period games be described with a Linnaean hierarchy?

Okay, here's a very offbeat question looking for opinions. I'm committing the dangerous (but probably to-be-common) act of crossing the streams between SCA and Querki here.

One of my long-term projects is running the Medieval and Renaissance Games Homepage. I've run this page for many years now (since the late 90s, when I got seriously into period games), and I consider it an important public resource -- it's my agglomeration of all useful-looking links I know of on the topic. But frankly, it's gotten pretty long in the tooth -- it's still written in hand-maintained HTML, and is kind of a pain in the ass at this point. (With the result that it has been *years* since I last updated it.)

There is, of course, an obvious solution: this is a *great* candidate for a Querki Space. After all, Querki is all about "semi-structured" data, and this site is about as "semi-structured" as you can get -- a mix of miscellaneous webpages with what amounts to a database of links and reconstructions of many sorts. And with Querki's planned collaboration features, I'll be able to open this solo project up to other members of the period games community, so we can build the one true wiki on the subject. So I think it's clear that I'm going to move the Period Games Homepage to Querki, likely within the next month or two.

That said, it does force me to think about what the schema should look like, which introduces an interesting question: how should I describe the family tree of period games? Calling it a "family tree" is clearly correct -- you can see the hierarchy visibly in the existing Rules page -- and I'm finding myself whimsically thinking about following the Linnaean taxonomy, grouping things more or less like this:
  • Phylum: the broad kind of game -- eg, Active, Board, Card, Dice

  • Family (or maybe Genus): what we think of as a single game today, but usually were a collection of linked variants -- eg, Chess, Tables, Tafl

  • Species: a single precise variant in a Family -- eg, Shatranj, Courier Chess, Dice Chess, Chess of the Mad Queen

  • Morph: a specific reconstruction of a Species -- eg, the various Hnefatafl reconstructions
Admittedly, this is probably more clever than useful. But I am struck at the way the memetic evolution of games, and the resulting family tree, *feels* like a biological evolutionary tree. (And purely on the Querki side, now I'm beginning to ponder whether there is anything that should be reified into Querki's type system to support such trees, since there are a lot of use cases for them.)

Anyway, looking for any thoughts and opinions about what the schema should look like here. I have a rapidly growing collection of links that I need to record somewhere, so I may as well start this project of converting the Homepage to Querki sometime soon...
Tags: games, querki, sca
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