Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The big shift

Awhile ago Val introduced me to the game Six.  They were looking for somebody to test their skills as most of their opponents weren't able to put up much of a fight.  I think they weren't trying terribly hard in the first game or perhaps I was just lucky but either way I got through the midgame and then realized that there was an opportunity to get a hard lock on them in the endgame.  The first hard lock I found turned out to be against the rules (which was a good thing, it was ridiculous) but I found another one quickly and won the game.

Val ended up beating me something like 6 games to 4 because they are much more practised at finding the geometries that force wins than I am.  They expressed some dismay at what I had done to the game afterwards though - I have apparently ruined Six for them.  The game originally was all about making trying to arrange tiles to form one of the winning structures and after playing against me it was suddenly about something else entirely.  In order to win Val suddenly had to play a new game that just wasn't as much fun and once you see that new dimension to a game it is pretty hard to ignore it later.

This same sort of transition has happened to me many times.  In particular I remember it happening when playing WOW.  After going through a raid with a huge number of people and getting shiny and amazing gear I just couldn't feel the same way about killing dorks and levelling up by myself.  The challenge and reward of raiding was a whole category up from the rest of the game and once you have tasted that the simple things just lack something.  That transition happened again when I lead raids.  After directing forty people to do complex tasks and having to see everything everyone was doing all at once just taking orders and bashing faces paled a bit in comparison.

You can't go home again.  Except with dragons, and shiny loot.

You can't go back to the giant pile of purple armour soaked in blood in the dragon's lair?

That lacks in panache, I think.  At any rate I apparently wreck games in this way.  Val is happy to play games well but doesn't invest in breaking them the way I do and as we have seen once a game is broken in that way it doesn't get unbroken.  It isn't true of just me of course - many or even most of my friends from university do this same thing to some extent or other and we spent many an hour doing it with each other taking games to whole new levels.  At this point it is a reflex, done automatically.  I can't not see the breaking points and playing a game without trying to win is unsatisfying.  Sadly it means that there are some people I can't play games with because I either have to refrain from breaking the game which makes it no fun for me or I break the game and then it is no fun for them.

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