Read the Rules: What technical writers can learn from board game design


Imagine writing guidance for a product that exists solely in the mind of the customer. That is the plight of the tabletop game designer. Yes, games come with boards and cards and dice and counters, but those are but the UI, so to speak. The essence of a tabletop game is the set of algorithms that govern play, as specified by the instructions. In that sense, a rulebook is both software and documentation, rolled into one.

Matthew Baldwin has read what can only be described as an absurd number of rulebooks -- and written a few to boot. In this talk he will articulate the qualities that make for a clear, concise, and comprehensive set of instructions, and how to apply those same principles to technical documentation writ large. He’ll discuss recent innovations in board game guidance and how they map to the ever-evolving field of software documentation. And he’ll even throw in a few tabletop recommendations, for those as interested in expanding their library of games as their writerly repertoire.

  • Conference: Write the Docs Portland
  • Year: 2020

About the speaker

Matthew Baldwin