石头剪刀布的升级版《RPS Lizard Spock》在现有的石头剪刀布系统（或语言）中添加了Lizard和Spock符号，并同时添加了这两个元素的能指和意指数组。在表达层面上只添加了新的形式（即“lizard”和“spock”所代表的手势），而表达实质——手还是保持原样。但是在内容层面上就没这么简单了，特别是在考虑内容形式时。从内容实质来看，只是添加了“lizard”和“spock”这两种元素，但是真正显著的变化来自内部系统，即结合现有的元素而创造出可替换且可比较的价值。当你在游戏过程中进行连接时，便会出现新的“可读取”且具有意义的符号序列。
Rock Paper Scissors: A Linguistic Approach
by Altug Isigan
This essay is a sketch for a linguistics-based approach to games. It is “under construction”, which means that I will update it from time to time.
A bit of Theory
According to danish linguist Louis Hjelmslev, language has two layers:
The expression plane is the plane of signifiers, whereas the content plane is the plane of signifieds.
Both these planes have a form and a substance, which gives us the following pairs:
Form of Expression
Substance of Expression
Substance of Content
Form of Content
A sign is the connotative sum of a signifier and a signified (not to be confused with direct reference, which would imply they are connected organically), which means that every sign has a content and expression plane and that each of its planes has a form and a substance.
Rock-Paper-Scissors as Language
The form of expression consists of the materialized forms that are utilized and recognized as the array of signifiers of the language. In Rock-Paper-Scissors, this array of signifiers consists of the gestures |rock|, |scissors| and |paper|.
The substance of expression is the material substance that is utilized to shape the forms that are recognized as the array of signifiers of the language. In Rock-Scissors-Paper, these are the player’s hands.
The substance of content is the catalogue of positive meanings that qualify as the signifieds of the language. In Rock-Paper-Scissors, these are semes like “rock”, “paper” and “scissors”.
The form of content is the arrangement of semes according to an internal order that creates a system of values that are comparable and replacable. In Rock-Paper-Scissors, this is the system that holds up the intransitive relationships between the semes “rock”, “paper” and “scissors”. Indeed, as values, “rock”, “paper” and “scissors” can be replaced with each other, and they can also be compared in terms of whether one is superior to the other.
The content plane can be completely imaginary. One may invent a number of substances of content (a “Pac Man”, a “Pinky”, a “maze”, “dots” etc), and then give this content a form, that is, design a value system that defines how these substances stand in relation to each other. The expression plane however, must be material, because it is only through its material form through which the world of semes and their underlying value system (the way we have to evaluate their relationship, and interprete the resulting states) can be made “visible” to someone. Usually, a rulebook, or a tutorial may be employed in order to “narrate” the content plane and the value system that sets up their network of relationship. But playing (seeing the game in action) serves the same purpose, because from the chain of signifiers (from the ways they are articulated, and from the change of game states that result from this articulation), one can infer the content plane and how its elements are related to each other.
Articulation and Signification
When a player poses the gesture |rock|, she simultaneously mobilizes both planes together with both their forms and substances: Her hand is the substance that “shapes” the gesture |rock|and thereby puts forward a form that is recognized as a valid signifier within the language. This form, once posed, does not only “call” the seme “rock”, but also the value “rock”, which gains its value through its relationship to other semes as maintained by the internal system, that is, the intransitive relationship between semes, which rules the ways they must be evaluated when put against each other.
Once the opposing player poses a counter-gesture (let’s say |paper|), a productive articulation of signs takes place, which enables a “reading” or interpretation: “Rock versus Paper. Paper wins.”
RPS Lizard Spock, a version expanded to include the signs Lizard and Spock to the existing sign system (or language) of RPS, alters through this both the array of signifiers and the array of signifieds. On the expression plane, only new forms have been added (the gestures |lizard| and |spock|), whereas the substance of expression, hands, remains the same. On the content plane however, things seem to become a bit more complex, especially when considering the form of content. In terms of substance, only the two semes “lizard” and “spock” have been added, but the truly significant change can be observed in the internal system that integrates the added semes as replacable and comparable values. Once articulated during play, new “readable” and meaningful sequences of signs emerge.
A Classification of Rules
Rules of Substance
These rules specify the substances that can be used to “carry” the forms that are recognized as signfiers within the system. For example in professional sports, one may come across very strict rules in regard to existents, such as the weight, radius, air pressure, and material of a football. However, kids would often use a tin can or any other object they see fit as a “football”. In Rock-Paper-Scissors, people often go by simply using their hands as the carriage/substance.
Rules of Form
These rules specify the parametres and traits that a form must possess in order to be recognized as a valid signifier within the system. Forms may be subject to standards (as it is the case in professional chess), however, one can often see variations in style and theme (like in a Star Wars themed set of chess figures). Quite often style and theme variations may push the limits of standards in regard to form. In Rock-Paper-Scissors, only three gestures with clearly distinguishable features are recognized as forms/signifiers.
Rules of Content
These rules delineate the range of existents and events in the game. The array of units in a RTS; the array of actions, such as kick or dodge in a fighting game. In Rock-Paper-Scissors, the rules of content limit the number of existents to three (the existents “rock”, “paper” and “scissors”), and the action to one: “attack”.
Rules of Value
The range of operators and the set of rules that specifies the arrangement of semes around these operators. These rules hold up a system of values against which relations between content elements can be measured, and a state of affairs expressed. In Rock-Paper-Scissors there is a single operator (“>”) which sets up an intransitive relationship between the semes “rock”, “scissors” and “paper”. When two gestures are posed against each other, they can be evaluated, and a state of affairs can be “read”.
Rules of Association
Rules that specify what form is to be associated with what content. In Rock-Paper-Scissors, the gesture |V| must be associated with the seme “scissors”. Many games are very strict in regard to association, since avoiding ambiguity seems to be a major concern in most games. However, many games also feature a “joker” or “wild card”, which allows the player to associate this form/signifier with a seme of her desire.
Rules of Articulation
The rules in regard to how signifiers must be articulated and arranged in respect to time and space. These rules bring an order to the signifiers that can be read as a state of affairs. They could be also called compositional rules. In its broadest sense, a standart game of football asks players to articulate their actions within the borders of a football field, and within the time frame of 90 minutes. Chess, on the other hand, provides different options for use of space and time.
The space in which articulation takes place must be seen twofold: On one hand, it is a format, that is, it provides a general frame in which articulation must take place, just like a sheet of paper or the frame of a painting, within which expressive forms (letters, words, lines, dots etc) must remain in order to be counted as part of the expression. On the other hand it also specifies rules for placement of signifiers within this format, that is, there may be measures that ensure that signifiers are placed according to a certain “reading line” or compositional aspect: A chess pawn may be moved anywhere within the “format” of the chess board, yet it would need to be placed within the confines of a square as well, and not at a line at which two squares intersect, or there would arise ambiguity in regard to how to evaluate the relationship between signifiers, and it would be impossible to “read” the game state.
Different classes of rules, and also rules within the same class will “work together” to shape existents and events.
A Few Remarks
Learning to play a game can be likened to learn a language. A player gradually grasps the relationship between the substance and form of the expression and content plane, and gains skills in both articulation (“writing”) and interpretation (“reading”).
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds can be seen as a game that basically kept the form of content (the value system) of Age of Empires as it is, changing the expression plane almost entirely, and overwriting the array of semes of AoE (the substance of content) with its own array of semes (the existents and events of the Star Wars universe).
Game design documents could well be analysed based on the expression and content planes that they are a sketch of. In other words, they are also sketches of a sign system, a language.
We often witness non-productive instances of articulation in languages. This can be the case in Rock-Paper-Scissors, too. If both players pose the same gesture (lets say |rock| versus |rock|), no meaning, that is, “meaninglessness” is produced due to the value system underlying the semes, which denies a comparison between the same semes, and hence, doesn’t allow for meaning to emerge.
Transmediality in games becomes possible because of the flexibility of a sign system in employing varying materials as the substance of its expression plane. Indeed, one version of Rock-Paper-Scissors could be based on players hands as the substance to deliver its recongized forms, whereas another version would use cards or sounds as its substance.
While rules may specify aspects of a game in great detail, it may leave many things to be infered by the player. This means that players may fill in the gaps in regard to things which aren’t mentioned, just as readers would fill in such gaps according to reader-response theory. (source:GAMASUTRA)