I am a gamer at heart: I love playing games and I love thinking about games.  Games are more than just an entertaining diversion – they are a way to explore the way your mind works, or sometimes to peer into the minds of others (the other players, and the game designers).  I wanted to make a list of some of the things I love about the games I play (which, most recently, include Starcraft 2, Magic, World of Goo, Bioshock, Agricola, Catch Phrase, and Drop7).

  • Depth of strategy. For a couple of reasons, actually: I really enjoy the process of personal discovery, where I am moving beyond the stated rules and finding paths to victory.  The games that require you to develop longer-term strategies often frustrate me at first (a lot of front-loaded work involved!) but they are consistently my favorites.  The key is…
  • Entertaining even when I am losing. I am quite prone to leaving game objectives when they punish me because I made a mistake (poker is a good example of this).  So, if there’s a way for me to remain interested within the game even when I am not really in contention for the game’s primary objective, I’m way happier.
  • Engaging aesthetically, like with pieces or art or what-have-you. I much prefer real Magic cards to stickered ones, or handwritten proxies, because much of the game’s enjoyment to me are the aesthetics that all together set the tone for the play experience.  I also heart iconography and little resource cubes.  Part of games to me is an escape from actual-reality into a generated-reality of the game… and the whole construction that comes in a box or via cards etc. is what generates that experience for me.  I love books more than movies, for example, because they let me imagine the world of the fiction in my head.  Game pieces are merely guides that aid such imagination.
  • Easy to share. This is an interesting point – I really enjoy games that EITHER let me easily play with my friends, or that let me play on my own and easily relate my experience with friends who have also played on their own.  I think this way of sharing with respect to games is a defining aspect of “gamer culture,” such as it is.

More on being a gamer later!