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The Whole Damned Point

posted Jul 21, 2012, 12:20 PM by Good Idea Games   [ updated Jul 21, 2012, 12:34 PM ]
People use games for many things, as a way to escape mundanity, as a way to create powerful and rewarding experiences, as a way to challenge themselves mentally, physically and socially, and as a different way to connect with the people around them.

These days, we need to be careful and aware of how we spend our time, and how we use these tools. Are they really improving our lives, or are we using them in a way that we will eventually regret, as we fritter away our hours with endless revenge fantasy.

I want to make games that are about people. Games that put the focus on the people in your life, whose very composition changes depending on who is across from you. Games that help you remember the people around you, not just forget the world.

I've recently discovered a few games that fit this build, and I will share them here.

Cards Against Humanity is Apples to Apples' sketchy uncle. The basic idea is that one player plays a card that asks an innocuous question, like "What's that Smell?" the other players play cards out of their hand with simple, but often raunchy answers like "Golden Showers," "Homeless People," and "Third Base." The power of innuendo can change the context of the original question. It's fast, simple, fun, and it makes it easy and anonymous to approach, discuss and laugh at taboo issues. Also it's apparently free to print and play. There's something I admire.

I'm late to the game, but Battlestar Galactica is an amazing social board game. It's a sort of overly complicated hybrid of Mafia and Logistics. Logistics isn't a game, it's just the crunchy part of getting stuff done. It features a delicious and flexible traitor mechanic where one or more players are actively sabotaging the group, while every one tries to makes a public presentation of cooperation to handle the life-threatening logistical situations that are constantly unfolding. The thing about BSG is that it offers enough to do, that the game doesn't need to be social. No one needs to look each other in the eyes, and talk to each other about motivation and goals. This makes the times when this discussion comes up all the more special.

The exciting thing about it is that it's about 90% of the Space Virus game I'd talked about earlier. A play through of BSG  seems to take 3+ hours, and that's something many of my game friends won't touch. That means an hour of "learning" the game, followed by a few more hours of playing an unsatisfactory game, where we all recognize the errors we made in the first hour, but don't want to give up yet. 

I think this is prime for a mod. In the next few weeks, I'll do some pruning to the cards, tweak some rules, and anyone who owns BSG will be able to edit down their game to a faster playing, more social game with a greater focus on the traitor hunt than the logistics.