@Teila wrote: This has stuck in my head and been rolling around for a while now, so I thought I'd bring it up for discussion. Lots of games have you solving puzzles — some combination of levers that have to be activated in just the right way in order to get the door open (rather than the hail of arrows), etc. Solving problems is more rare, unless you consider every quest-dispenser to have a problem you're solving. But this doesn't really feel like solving a problem to me; the solution is already completely defined, and you're just implementing it. I can imagine games with actual problems to figure out and solve. For example, maybe you run across an NPC drinking himself into oblivion, get him talking, and learn that he believes his wife is cheating on him. No quest is added to your journal, but if you try, you can find out who his wife is, investigate, and discover that she's doing no such thing, but is in fact sneaking off to learn a trade (I don't know, blacksmithing or something) but is afraid her husband won't approve. Then you go back and talk to the first NPC about all the benefits of being a dual-income family, and marital bliss is restored. You haven't really done much in the traditional sense (delivering goods, collecting squirrel pelts, etc.), but you've solved a problem. (@Teila, is this the sort of thing you had in mind?) But as I re-read that, it's not so different from quests found in many RPGs, except without a quest entry and marker. And, I suppose, without a reward of coins and XP at the end (but instead with the reward of a happier town, and new friends who perhaps will be able to do something for you someday). Of course quest systems have evolved because otherwise, it's very easy to get lost in a sea of problems and obligations. You end up scribbling your to-do list and notes on paper, essentially doing the same thing but without any help from the game. It also requires players to slow down and really take the time to converse with NPCs, think about their problems and relationships, and come up with solutions — whereas many players really want to just run around and collect gold/gear/XP as quickly as possible (as leveling up is where they get their sense of accomplishment). So a game like this would be a rather different sort of game, and require a different sort of player. But now I'm rambling... what do you all think? How can games give players opportunities to solve problems (not puzzles), and what games have done this well?