Musical Overlay and Generative Experience

“Life’s the biggest troll but the joke is on us” - Donald Glover as an orc launches my body across the map

“Life’s the biggest troll but the joke is on us”
- Donald Glover as an orc launches my body across the map

I love music! And I have a habit of inevitably replacing most in-game music with my own. Do you do this too? How much does this effect the game experience?

After the first 300 hours of Slay the Spire I started to get a little bored of the same ol soundtrack. And at any rate, as much as I love StS, their music isn’t a strong suit. So now, Donu and Deca murder me to the tunes of El Huervo and The Neighborhood, which is a much-needed improvement…

…but it’s not strictly better to replace music, is it? Even unassuming music - especially unassuming music - does its own job of establishing a lot about a game.

Obviously, music establishes tone and atmosphere. High-intensity music helps you feel ready to ROCK in combat, while slower music can do stuff like help you recognize a town as a safe space from monsters. This stuff, I think, we all know intrinsically. But there’s other stuff that’s maybe less obvious too.

For example, we know that background music should generally be unassuming / loopable / tune-out-able so that players don’t get annoyed. But also, I think unassuming songs are also good because they can “fit in” a wider variety of contexts. Conversely, the more the bgm slaps in a game, the narrower its application probably is. For example: combat music has room to be exciting because it’s only going to be used in high-adrenaline situations. But town music can sometimes be difficult to make “special” if a variety of moods are going to happen in that location. This is a big argument in favour of letting the game select appropriate music for you (assuming the game is well made) - the music is more likely to match w/e you’re doing and not accidentally ruin a sad time or sully a happy one.

Wait, this album has a game??

Wait, this album has a game??

There’s another neat thing that I think in-game music does too… The fact that game music is “isolated” - that is, rarely heard outside its own game - means that hearing its soundtrack can easily re-immerse you into that world. Comparatively, an IRL song may be loaded with other associations, and therefore may prevent you from getting as into the mood even if the tone matches. Things get murky once you download Darren Korb on Spotify, but you get the idea.

What I mean to say, I guess, is that a well-made game will have good sound design that makes conscious choices with their music. And, once you spend enough time in a game, even just hearing a certain song will give you a kind of gut-instinct-pavlov-doggo-reaction due to association. Cool!

Buuut, the thing is, I think choosing your own music has a lot of benefits as well.

Like, okay, so you get to replace potentially-annoying/boring music with something of your own taste that you enjoy. But also, if you happen to be in a particular musical phase in your life, you get to form associations between a “real-life” artist and that game. Maybe whenever you listen to Future Islands you’ll get some faint nostalgia pings for Spelunky? Maybe you were on a Madonna kick when you were grinding for a specific set of mats for a gun?

Since a song you chose can traverse both “out of game” and “in-game” experiences, your real-life experiences with a song could influence how you perceive the events, tone, atmosphere, etc of the game you’re playing. This isn’t a strictly bad thing, in my opinion - while yeah, you can drift away from the “intended” atmosphere you were “supposed” to be getting from a certain location/game/event, you also get to put a bit of a personal spin on it.

In other words, listening to your own music when playing a game is a small way of personalizing your experience and interpretation of that game. If game BGM can do a good job of setting tone, real life music should be able to the same. And if that’s the case, choosing music carefully can be your way of "shaping” what kind of game you’ll end up playing. Your experience could end up being very different from another player’s just because you were listening to Bjork? Seems great!

Conclusion: Music affects your gameplay experience in a few ways. It seems like playing with the default music is best until you have a good sense of the game, then swapping to your own music is cool for subsequent playthroughs.

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Ultimate Kings Cup: Ruleset Compendium

(Part one can be found here. )


Below is the most comprehensive list I can think of for Kings. Mix and match appropriately for your group. Unless otherwise noted, the regular format for all of these is either "the last person to do this drinks", or "the first person to mess this up drinks". First are the rules that rhyme / alliterate, then are misc rules that can go anywhere.

Also, we take no responsibility for consequences of these rules. Select and use at your own risk.


Space. You announce a location, like "places to ___". People go in a circle naming a place to ___. Usually antireq with "categories".

Face. Everybody must be touching somebody else's face.

Race. When drawn, everyone must run to a (pre-chosen) location and back.

Usually, Ace is Waterfall or "never have I ever".


You. Point at someone. They drink.

Double. Point at two people. They drink.

True. Ask someone a question. They must either answer truthfully or drink.


Me. You drink.

Glee. Start singing a song. If most people join in, those who don't must drink. If nobody joins in, you drink.


More. After a countdown, everyone points to who they think needs more drinks. Whoever gets the most votes drinks. In a tie, both drink.

Vore. Everyone must put anything into their mouth that does not normally go into their mouth. Caution.

Floor. Everyone must put their hand on the floor. The slowest person drinks. Hard mode: Everyone lays their entire body down flat on the floor.

Herbivore. Vegans and vegetarians drink.


Drive. The person goes "vroom" and steers their wheel to the next person, who must then either go "vroom" and steer towards the next person, or "ERR" [screech] to change direction to the previous person. First person to mess up drinks.

Jive. Perform a simple pose/dance move. The next person does yours, then adds theirs. The next person does yours, then the other person's, then adds their own. The next person.... etc.

Guys. Starting with you, everyone names a guy they hate until someone can't think of one.

Guys. Masculine people drink.

High Five. Everyone puts their hands together. The last two people [or one person] to get both of their palms against someone else's palms must drink.


Chicks. Femme people drink.

Fix. Describe a problem of yours and the other people take a few seconds to describe how they'd fix it. Best [funniest] solution doesn't drink, everyone else does.

Trix. Everyone gets the chance to show off a weird thing their body can do. If you don't. If you do, also drink.


Heaven. Everyone immediately puts their hand up ASAP.

Eleven. "7-11." Go to the corner store for refreshments. Or refill your drinks.


Date (Polyamorous). First person to draw 8 is "ready to mingle" and drinks. Each subsequent 8 drawn joins the relationship; whenever an 8 is drawn, all people in the relationship drink.

Date (Kismesis). Choose someone to be your date. When you would drink, you can make them drink instead. When they would drink, they can make you drink instead.

Date (regular). Choose someone to be your date. When you would drink, they drink too. And vice versa. This lasts until the next 8 is drawn.

Late. The most recent person to arrive at the house/location/game circle drinks.


Rhyme. Say a word. The person after you must say a word that rhymes, and then the next person, etc. First person who can't think of a rhyme drinks.

yeah there's not much for 9, usually it's just rhyme or one of the misc below.


Pen. There are n-1 pens in the center, where n is the number of people playing. Last person to grab drinks.

Pen. The person to your left tells you what to draw. Everyone else has to guess what it is. Anyone whose first guess is wrong drinks, unless everyone's wrong - then you drink.

Traditionally, 10 is categories, as listed below.


Snack. Everyone takes turns listing someone they find to be a snack. First person who doesn't drinks.

Smack. You must smack yourself anywhere on your body. Anyone who laughs drinks. You don't need to announce that you have drawn a jack until after the smack. You drink if nobody laughs.

Jacuzzi. Everyone says something they like about the person who drew the card. The person who drew the card drinks in honour of themselves.

Traditionally, Jack is "thumbmaster" or equivalent. Listed below.


Questionmaster. I hate this one, but it's here for completion. If you ask someone a question and they actually give you an answer, they must drink.

Questionmaster II. Same as above, except people are allowed to answer your questions if they say "____" first. (the phrase can be whatever your group decides on before the game.)

Quench. Drink some water you wild animal.

Queen of Dance. Same as 5's Jive, listed above.

Royalty. You must be referred to with royal monikers like "your majesty" and w/e. Anyone who doesn't, you MAY sentence them to drink if you choose. Hard mode: you must use the royal "we" when referring to yourself.


Rule. Invent a new rule that stays for the rest of the game, or until the next King is drawn (if they choose to overwrite your rule). 

Long Live! Everyone else raises a glass and cheers in your honor, saying, "Long live the king!" They drink to your name.

King's Cup. The OG. There's a cup in the center. Every time a King is drawn, pour some of your drink into that cup. When the last king is drawn, that person must drink the entire cup. I personally find this rather gross, but now you know why it's called King's Cup.

King's Cup II. There's a particularly expensive or good drink in the center of the table, in 4/3/2/1 portions (remove kings from your deck to match). Drawing a King means you get to drink that bonus drink.

- You may also do Royalty as listed above, if you want.

Misc: rules that can work for any card

Waterfall. You start drinking, then the next person, etc. The next person can't stop drinking until you stop. And so on. I don't really like this one for older groups since alcohol tolerance drops a bit. 

Cultmaster/Thumbmaster/Viking. Describe a prompt and the action that must follow, then continue the game as normal. Once, at any time afterwards, you may suddenly do that prompt and everyone must follow the described action. The slowest person to follow drinks. You can be as subtle or obvious as you want with your prompt.

Slap. A variant on "Heaven" - everyone must slap the table. Last person drinks.

Would You Rather. Ask a 'would you rather' question. After a countdown, everyone puts out 1 or 2 fingers to declare their vote. The people of the minority opinion drink. In a tie, the questionmaster drinks. [you can make it majority opinion if that feels more subversive to you]. Usually used for Queens.

Paranoia. Whisper a question to someone. That person answers out loud. If you want to hear the question, you must drink. [Once people can no longer think of creative questions, feel free to change rules.] Usually used for Queens.

Never Have I Ever: Say something that you've never done. Anyone who has done it, drinks.

Categories. Say a category, then something in that category. People will add to the list of things in that category. First person who can't think of smth drinks. Usually used for 10s.

Rant: Other people decide on a topic and you need to rant about it for 30 seconds. IE chairs, Tim Horton's, the colour orange, etc. If you can't fill up 30s with a rant, you drink. [Avoid bummers!] Usually used for aces.

Ideas for New Rules If You Draw A King

Wingman: You must cheer whenever the person to your left has to drink. If you don't and you get called out, you drink.

Rhythm: When you drink, you move to the beat of w/e music is currently playing. If called out, drink again.

Tilt: Choose a number. Whenever that number is drawn, whoever most recently drank must take another drink.

Codenames: Everyone must refer to one another by any name except for their first or last name.

Born To Die: Whenever a Lana Del Rey song comes up on the playlist, the last person to salute the nearest flag drinks. (this is pretty specific but can be adapted to your needs...)

Eco-Friendly: If using the "drive" rule for 5's, everyone uses bikes instead of cars. Now the sound is "brrring" and "erh" instead of "vroom" and "erh".

Communism: If using the "3 = me" rule, drawing a 3 now means "we" instead of "me".

Scry: Instead of drawing one card each turn, that player draws two cards and chooses one to use. The other one goes into the discard.

Justice: Whenever someone hits someone else, they must pour themselves a shot of TrashBad for their next drink. (Before the game, mix a cup of TrashBad that's basically a poor-tasting bad alcohol. IE moonshine+arizona+wine.)

Tiny Man: (Warning: ppl hate this.) Everyone must pretend there's a tiny man on their cup. You must remove the man to drink, then put the man back on. Otherwise you drink again. 

Undominant: People must pick up their drink with their non-dominant hand.

In general, rules should not be stuff that prevent people from talking or interacting with each other - unless your group is the type where restrictions on talking make them want to communicate even more.

Feel free to also do rules that only concern specific card draws, or specific events in the environment around you. They don't have to be massively pervasive stuff. One group of friends likes a rule where you must be dancing when in the kitchen, for example.

If you have any additions you'd like us to add, comment below and we can update. This is I think the most comprehensive list of King's Cups rules that exist online - hope you enjoy :D

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Playstyle: Why We Replay Games (and why it's good)

If you're the type who would rather play New Vegas for the 8th time than load up a game you got last summer sale, science says not to worry! Yes, even if you make the exact same story decisions every time. That's because there's a thing called “Volitional Reconsumption” that validates your habits. Google has a few good resources on it if you want to learn through scientists [most of what I’m saying is from here] but otherwise I'll explain it in videogame-ish terms below.

Pictured: the fun, good and self-indulgent stuff

Pictured: the fun, good and self-indulgent stuff

“Reconsumption” is when you voluntarily “consume” the same experience over and over again. This obviously relates to repeating the same media [book/movie/song/etc] but it also relates to activities like going to the same place at a beach. It’s particularly common with “hedonistic” experiences, AKA fun/good/self-indulgent stuff.

So maybe you find yourself getting in a New Vegas mood every summer, or you tend to rewatch Steven Universe at the start of a new term. This kind of stuff, turns out, is actually good for you!

Why is it good? In the most general sense, it helps your mind sort itself out emotionally and it helps you become a more solid person.

Specifically, when you repeat an experience, it’s tied to all the past times you’ve had that same experience. Your brain navigates within/between your emotional reaction to all the other times you’ve consumed that thing, and then goes: “Hey, how is my emotional response different/similar to the last few times I've done this? How am I doing as a person this time? What does it mean, if my reaction is different now?”

The term is “emotional efficiency” – you “optimize” the search/attainment of specific emotional outcomes, because you know it’s already present in a certain game! Repeating an experience makes it a good control variable because you don’t have to scour the world to find another thing that can give you the same experience.

For example, if you are the type who replays Skyrim every time it comes out, every time you finish the Dark Brotherhood questline, your brain already anticipates your emotional reaction from the previous times. In repeating this emotional reaction on purpose, you get to do a few things:

Blade of woe remains 10/10

Blade of woe remains 10/10

A) use it as a gauge to better understand how you've changed since the last time you've done this. For example, are your feelings on Astrid / Cicero / etc different this time? This helps you see your own growth.

B) use it as "training" for your emotions, to make you better at dealing with that type of emotional catalyst whenever it arises in day-to-day life. So your brain will be a little better at coping with situations similar to the Dark Brotherhood's.

It also helps you get a deeper emotional scoop out of the experience itself, because you have a better chance at finding things you’d missed before… but the main important thing is that in the end, you become more aware of your own growth. You become more aware of your understanding and appreciation of intense or difficult subjects by using the repeated experience as a lens.

Final note: this is why you should let kids repeat stuff all the time! Repeating books, movies, games, etc. is specifically really great for children because they do volitional reconsumption even more than adults. So try not to get too annoyed when they do it... it can be good for them to a point, as it's how they develop their understanding of the world.

In conclusion? Don't feel guilty for supporting Yes Man for the 8th time out of 8 playthroughs. :)

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