Oh My Word - Board Game Rule Book Writing
I often feel that we accept the written word as something that's a given and don't pay much attention to it. We feel that writing isn't hugely important and that it's fine to just jot anything down, without much care or attention. That's often fine and it's great that people give writing a go. In fact, I encourage people to try and express themselves in written form. Keep tweeting, posting, texting and emailing. However, I think that there are times when it's vitally important that the writing is done well and with care - and writing is actually hard if you want to do it well. Yet, in the board game hobby, writing is too often done by the wrong people, which can spoil the game experience.
"It's very much akin to technical writing..."
It's not just akin to it. It /is/ technical writing.
Some tips from my experiences:
1. NEVER repeat yourself in the rule book. Say it once, and direct readers there any time you need to refer to it. STF broke this rule repeatedly, and suffered because of it. We even defined "adjacency" two different ways.
2. Try to teach the game as briefly as possible, covering the largest use cases. If there are outlier / edge case rules, consider putting them in a back section.
3. Get people who don't play games or don't know the subject matter to read your rule book. I guarantee they will ask you questions you didn't anticipate. I was surprised at how many people had no idea what a "tango" was (It's a target).