History of Matching Tile Games

I was surfing over at the indiegamer forums, and found this link to an article titled “Swap Adjacent Gems to Make Sets of Three: A History of Matching Tile Games” written by Jesper Juul.

After pouring through the article, here are my first impressions.

I’ve actually thought about writing this very type of article before, and am rather upset I missed the opportunity to be the first. I might take a stab at my own version of his “family tree”, as I disagree with a few of his organizational decisions. Particularly with the placement of Lumines as a direct decedent of Dr Mario (wha!?!).

Also notably missing from the article was my recent favorite match-three, Puzzle Quest. Other games that were missing include: Puzzle Pirates, Zoo Cube, Zoo Keeper, Pokemon Trozei, and the relatively recent Honeycomb Beat.

I found the last two sections of the article, “The problems of writing a history” and “Why matching tile games?”, to be almost as interesting as the family tree. I think when I attempt to write my version of the tree, it will be a tree of all puzzle games, not just match-three, although this last paragraph from the article illustrates at least in part why the distinction might be meaningless:

“The principle of matching similar items is not new in game history: It can be found in a wide range of games including card games, Dominoes, and Mahjong. In fact, it can be argued as Raph Koster has done (2005), that pattern identification lies at the core of all games. In this perspective, matching tile games is the game form that most explicitly speaks to what most people find enjoyable about games: Looking for a pattern, finding it, and moving on, in search of ever more patterns.”

I think maybe I should look up this Raph Koster person.

Update: I have just ordered Koster’s A Theory of Fun for Game Design from Amazon, and bookmarked his blog while I was at it.

I’ve also been reading Jesper Juul’s blog, and found the comments on his original post about match-three games to be particularly interesting.