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Open and Closed Endedness

Open-ended games are ones where the narrative is not inherently bounded. Essentially the situation the game describes can never really be resolved and new situations and stories continue to arise.

"Closed" games are ones where the situation described cannot be carried on indefinitely and there are mechanisms within the game that force it to some kind of conclusion.

Open-ended games are the traditional RPG form, even if played as a one-shot scenario or a limited set of sessions the rules are essentially focussed on a campaign style of play where characters may evolve and change indefinitely.

A lot of the current wave of indie games are explicitly closed in their mechanics with various timing mechanics that prevent the game continuing even if it is still possible to extend the narrative.

Examples of closed games are 3:16 where the individual characters must eventually disappear into the stars and A taste for murder where the murderer must eventually be revealed.