Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What a game is

This Christmas my family got involved in a couple games during our annual Christmas party.  The first one was Camp Nightmare, and the second one is a game called CLR.  (Or LRC, or RCL, or any combination really.)  Camp Nightmare is a strategy game (which I am currently Kickstarting!) that requires a lot of thought and consideration to maximize your score.  CLR is a long, complicated way to randomly roll a die to see who wins.

I consider Camp Nightmare a game.  As, I imagine, anyone else would.  CLR though, is just a collection of rules for rolling dice to move tokens around.  It is competitive in the sense that you play it against a bunch of other people, but it is only a game in the sense that you sit around doing nothing productive and somebody wins.  There is no decision made at any point.  You never have an option, you never make a play.  You just roll dice a lot until there is a victor.

I don't get the appeal.

Sitting around chatting, this I get.  Maybe with the aid of snacks, or maybe not.  I totally understand the appeal of games like Cards Against Humanity, not least because you can actually be good at that game, though obviously there is a lot of random.

But the desire to sit around and engage in an long duration not-game boggles my mind.  If I sit down to chat and socialize, I want to be able to talk.  I also enjoy the ability to leave mid game without wrecking it for people.  For me a totally random game has neither of these advantages.  People spend their time yelling about nothing, and are chained to the table while the game winds its way down.

I get wanting to play a strategy game.  I get wanting to talk.  But wanting to talk exclusively about a game where no one ever makes a choice?  Insanity.

To be sure, I can sit back and logically construct reasons for this.  If you don't want to talk to people about anything important, such a not-game can provide a way to say nothing and avoid controversial topics.  I sure don't want to do that as I am happy to be super controversial!

A not-game can also be a way for people who can't think of anything to say to pass the time.  Again, lacking anything to say is rarely an issue for me.

I suppose this is all very predictable given my attitude towards small talk.  I generally find small talk to fit somewhere between ridiculous and insulting.  Either have a real conversation or just say nothing!  Non-games are a form of small talk, providing an endless source of things to comment on that no one can object to.

Thankfully people don't often try to convince me to play such games, and my daughter is old enough that we can play games with some skill involved.

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