Monday, November 2, 2009

Why I like board gaming

It can be challenging
I mostly play 'Modern Board Games' ("MBG"). MBG's are often created in the EU (primarily Germany), where family gaming is quite popular, and are often called 'Euro Games'. These games rely more on the player's skill than luck. Luck sometimes, but not always, adds an element of balancing or randomness to these games. But skill and planning are more important to win. Occasionally, I will still play a classic game, such as chess, cribbage or backgammon.

MBG's have widely varied themes and mechanics/rules. The games are complex, interesting, fun, and usually have scope for replay-ability.

Collectively my gaming group has a very large collection of games. Some games get played a lot, we often have new games added to the collection, and some get played only once or twice a year. So we are constantly learning new rule sets, and developing new strategies.

The chance element in many of the games, as well as the actions of the other players, drives one to modify strategies.

I particularly like games designed with some sort of economic element, where building some sort of beneficial generating facility plays an important part in winning. Some of my favourites are Power Grid and Agricola.

It can be just plain silly
The majority of our time is spent on playing sophisticated games, (although sometimes it seems we spend an inordinate amount of time prevaricating on what game we should play). We often spice up, or lighten up the sessions with some 'fillers' between big games. Evenings are ended (and sometimes started) with something light. Card games, kids games, silly themes, anything frequently generating a giggle, even if it was designed for someone a fraction of my age. Actually some of the modern children's games can involve sophisticated strategies.

An excuse not to drink
The standard of fellows I game with is rather high. I must have my full faculties to have even a weak chance of winning.

Board gaming is by it's very nature a social activity. Between and during games we comment on our lives, current events, popular culture. We make jokes and mildly tease each other. We plan special events and trips. Usually before the gaming begins, some of us share a meal together and/or carpool to the session, which is another opportunity to interact.

Interactivity, Creativity & Variety
Some hobbies, such as watching sport, actually have a very low level of real interaction for the participant, who is primarily an observer. In gaming, the participant develops strategies, makes decisions, and reacts to circumstances.

During the games there is often amusing repartee amongst the players.

Sometimes we create new games and test them with each other.

We play quite a large range of games, and many have interesting aesthetic aspects.

I don't really like computer-based games
I find video games and other computer based games really inhibit social interaction. And the prevalent themes usually involve unrealistic, yet gory, violence.

I can share my hobby with my family
Some people consider games just an activity for children. I consider games to be an opportunity for real quality time with my children, involving many of the features I described above.

Before I add a new game to my collection, or buy a game for someone else, I ask myself a few questions:
  1. Did I enjoy playing this game (if I had play-tested it before)?
  2. Do I think my family would enjoy playing this?
  3. Is it distinct from games I already have?
It's just good clean fun that is interesting.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Brian.

    My favourite thing about boardgaming is how it has enabled me to meet a whole bunch of people all around the world from quite different circles than those I might otherwise move in.