In this week’s Escapist, Jason Rohrer asks how is it that some board games, such as Go, are infinitely re-playable, while this quality is nearly non-existent in video games. And simply getting faster with each level isn’t enough.

His answer lies in single-player vs multi-player. In other words, comparing single-player board games to single-player video games yields the same puzzle like qualities. He’s pretty sure that competent AI programming stopped once video games went on to become multi-player, and that there’s a reason for that:

If there is a single, optimal path to victory, then systematically finding that path is the main task in the game. Once the path has been discovered and documented for future use, the game’s depth is exhausted. If there are multiple possible paths to victory, finding the rest after you’ve found one is an optional act of completionism, an exploration of mechanical depth.

While I agree that that’s what most video game designers do, it kind of ignores the branches of AI that learn from their mistake and play better, or at least differently, the next time.

He also provides a free original downloadable board game that he designed.