You take games too seriously.

2 Responses

  1. ndef says:

    I totally understand your discontent with Mario Party, although I don’t exactly share it. You mention that the game is intended for a social setting, but gloss over the potential for social rewards. By no means is it my first pick for a party game, but it does a pretty good job of simulating a competition without requiring a hell of a lot from the participants, which means it’s easy for people of all backgrounds and levels of sobriety to share. I’m a firm believer in the power of games – even games of chance – to bring people together, and Mario Party has at least a little bit of redeeming value along this line.

    No, for me it’s the classic card game War that raises my hackles. The first time I played that game, it took me a minute to come to terms with the purity of random chance that dictates the entire experience. “Wow,” I thought. “We could have saved ourselves a lot of time if we’d just flipped a coin.” So I know what you mean.

    The duality of chance and strategy is interesting, because it forms a continuum that all games have to find their place along. Chess is pure strategy. War is pure chance. Mario Party and Fluxx are mostly chance with a little bit of strategy thrown in; I can usually stomach this sort of thing if I’m getting something else out of it. I’m a big fan of games at the other end of the spectrum, like Civilization, which is mostly strategy with a bit of chance thrown in to keep things unpredictable.

    I’m glad you brought up D&D, though, ’cause that’s a funny one. It’s harder to place along the continuum. Personally, I think it falls pretty much dead center, but I suppose that depends a lot on how you play. The game can be viewed either as a series of high level actions (the players decide to lie in wait rather than storm the fortress, or to kidnap and interrogate someone rather than get information through diplomatic channels) or a series of low level actions (the rogue hides, the fighter intimidates, or the bard tries to earn someone’s trust). High level actions are almost purely strategic, while low level actions – the ones that end up falling to the dice – are pure chance. I find that the resulting mix ends up being extremely compelling with respect to both intellectual engagement and that gambler’s rush.

  2. Well put. I had no intention of lambasting Mario Party, only trying to understand my own frustrations. It opened up a can of worms that I spilled all over this precious blog. The idea of high-level actions and low-level actions is very smart as well. I think that it is the idea that the game is what you make of it that I find so interesting, and is also why “Calvin-Ball” is possibly the greatest game ever conceived.

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