Monday, March 24, 2008

Playing vs. Watching

I am known to some as a person who doesn't actually play boardgames, other than his own--but I do play the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. I don't even play my games once they're published, though I'll play variations. Except for D&D, I'm always interested in the design aspect of playing a game, that is, improving the designs I'm working on.

Moreover, playing a game that is less than top standard is too much like work. And some games (like chess) are too much like work in any case. I am much happier watching or reading the rules than suffering through playing.

When I used to play boardgames, I played "for blood", to win. But about age 25 I got to where I disliked the competitiveness, what it did to me, so I stopped playing competitive games. D&D is a cooperative game, at least the way I play it.

D&D is an aberration in other ways, too. The games I design tend to be grand strategic, often covering long periods, or they are abstract. In either case, there is no "role assumption", the player does not think of himself as a single individual. And I don't feel a need for role-assumption. Yet D&D is often highly tactical, and players represent single individuals. I hardly ever design a game like that. (It has to be said, when I got back into designing games I stopped playing D&D, and only recently started again--but that may have been a matter of availability of players rather than distraction of boardgames.)

At Rick Steeves' Game Night recently, I played my new dice game that uses Law & Chaos principles, to make up the numbers; I didn't play Warhamster Rally but learned a lot from watching and reading the rules, yet I didn't have to concentrate on it. (I'm designing a "Rocket Rally" game, sort of broad market using RoboRally principles, so I was quite interested in WHR.) I also watched part of a Forumula De game, very clever yet not offering something I can use in any game I'm working on--not yet, anyway. I also had a look at TransAmerica. I'm always looking for methods and ideas that might help me, yet most of the games played at Rick's are Euro types rather than wargames, and most of the games I design are at least in part wargames, certainly conflict games.

No comments: