Sunday, July 30, 2006

If It Doesn't Hurt, You're Not Doing It Right

So many casual gamers seem to play games as a mere exercise, or just to kill time. They would never think of trying to steal your city in Carcassonne or blocking your route in Ticket to Ride. Many lighter games have enough luck that such play styles go unpunished.

But where's the fun in that?

For me--with most games--the fun is not the challenge of the mechanics, but of the opponents. They are trying to win, and trying to keep me from winning. If my opponent is not going to make my choices difficult, he is not doing his job.

The best games are the ones where I go, "Ouch! What a great play!" Do I block you, and sacrifice my own position? Or do I ignore you, and do what's best for me tactically? Can I do both?

A game cannot be great unless it has tough decisions. Opponents cannot be worthy unless they present those tough decisions to you. Do them a favor and give them the same consideration. Make them earn their victory. A game well-played is a win for all players.

[Princes of Florence image by Silke und Andre.]


At 2:11 AM, Blogger Friendless said...

My new game buddy needs to learn this! I taught her Gipf last night, and during my turn she was smacking me to make me play faster. She eventually conceded I was imperturbable, because this is Serious Stuff. Besides, I like being smacked. Her attitude seems to be a quick game's a good game, but she doesn't yet appreciate how much a good game of Gipf means to me.

At 8:23 AM, Blogger Jason Little said...

Excellent post, and for the most part, I agree -- although I will say that the actual opponent influences the meta-setting than the game. If I'm playing with my wife or son, I will not be cut throat. I'll be a bit of a foil to their plans, but focus on interaction and wiling away the time with my two favorite people.

Against other diehard gamers, the gloves come off. Unfortunately, the gloves are usually on their fists and I'm the one being pummeled, but I will take into account how my moves make the game more difficult for them rather than just how those moves will affect me and my position.

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the fun is not the challenge of the mechanics, but of the opponents"

Well, absolutely!
If I want to play against a mechanic, my kids have a playstation :-)


At 8:44 AM, Blogger Gerald McD said...


If that wasn't true, we might as well just play Candyland.


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