Rules and exceptions

”Give me a rule without any exceptions and I shall regard it as my God.”

– Me while in the shower

There is no rule without an exception. Rules and laws that don’t have exceptions are boring. Almost everything is governed by some laws or rules, games are (both digital and analog), society, school, cars, nature, gravity, the government and many many more things.

I am mostly coming at this from a game perspective. Because what I have experienced is that most rules become a lot more interesting when there are exceptions or ways to break it.

For example: In Dota 2, when someone uses a Black King Bar (BKB) they become impervious to magic damage and they cannot be targeted by magic abilities. But if the hero Lina has Aghanim’s Scepter she can target the player using BKB with her ultimate ability and she will deal damage. (You could probably argue that she is not technically breaking any rule since her damage type is changed to a valid type and therefore should be able to damage a BKB user.)

Another example is in Monopoly. Normally you are only allowed to move forward when you roll the dice. But if you land on certain spaces you can get cards that move you forward. These exceptions or “breakings” shake things up and often creates, but not always, more interesting interactions in a game. This is a very good thing, since interactions are one of the building stones of games. If there would have been no way to interact with a BKB user than the item would be “boring” since the number of interactions would be diminishingly few. Interaction is what separates games from other media. And a law/rule that you cannot interact with is not a law/rule as much as it is a fact you have to abide to.

Even in real life we have exceptions. The police are allowed to carry guns; the common populace is not (in many parts of the world, not all parts of it). This is probably not because someone thought it would create interesting interactions between society, life and authority, but to help the law enforcement enforce the laws. But just like in games, what is interesting is how the “players” (those who have to follow the laws) can and will work around the limits created by laws, but also how they will exploit weaknesses in laws and society. Some the workarounds are illegal and/or downright immoral, despite that, people will always try to interact with rules/laws and use them to their advantage. It is a good thing that they do that, since it helps us to see what might be wrong or need fixing with a rule/law. It makes sure that the “playfield” (read laws) keeps changing along with the world and society it is supposed to reflect and uphold.

There is no rule without an exception.


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