Classic Games Redefined blog

This is the blog formally known as Docreason's Designer HQ (the rest TBD). It focuses the thoughts of the design process of Rich Hutnik and other things Rich, gaming related (pretty much), finds interesting. The change in name reflects a bit of a change in focus and branding.
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In the end, we make toys.

Richard Hutnik
United States
New York
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This post has to do with having fun and taking things too seriously. It also links to the BGG rating system, and the reality that people with games can take their interest too seriously, and sometimes want it to be more than it is.

Games can serve a lot of purposes, but I would argue in defense of the concept of having fun as a main one. You can use them in education, and training. I also happened to create a game called The Activist Game which was my commentary on the uselessness of activist groups to really affect change, and their difficulty to do so and survive. My motivation for getting back to working on that design was after I got burnt out working with Occupy locally and watch it become an unfocused trainwreck.

On this note, I think the BGG rating system serves a very useful purpose. It is there, not to score some points for artistic merit, but asks how often you want to play a game. This is a great rating system. I know of someone, who is likely in the too serious camp. He doesn't like the concept. He wants games evaluated on artist merit. He would give a game like Hansa a 10, along with other games by other games by Michael Schacht that, because they come in as perfect as possible. Ask if he would play these games all the time, and the answer was "no". I will say I like Michael Schacht's designs to, for the most part.

The play is the thing, but how is it the thing? In the end, doesn't our enjoyment matter? Is there some sort of holy perfection obtained, and people seek some sort of transcendent experience from it? Is the idea to have some sort of static game they think is perfect? Is change to be thrown out? You have people who play Chess, for example, who think the game is perfect, to the extent that you had someone quote the game was handed down by God. You had someone who claims they want to play the exact same game Kasparov played. Want to master a plaything is what they are after. Try showing up a chess club with a variant, and people will look at you funny. And this being of narrow mind had an irony at a local chess club, where you had speed chess purist who complained about the regular chess community not being open-minded about speed chess. Let's just say my ability to find a local group to playtest chess variants is out now.

And we come to A Few Acres of Snow, which people enjoyed but now has an elephant in the room issue of apparently being solved in advanced play. People enjoy the game. But, the game gets sold because of the issue. Is it not for those who like the game to end up coming up with ideas on how to make the game still work? One can yell, "I didn't sign up to be a playtester". But, the reality is that any game produced will reveal things about it that can be improved, or can be tweaked if they get stale, to make them fresh. Why is mixing it up a problem? If it is fun, why not save the fun? Even if a game gets playtested a bunch, things STILL can slip through. Balloon Cup fits into this category. Are those who like the game not supposed to accept a fix for the game, and with the fix, not recommend it to those who look for a game? The person I spoke of earlier who ended up not liking the BGG rating system thought so. It apparently is an abomination if you now give a positive review of Balloon Cup. Games are some sort of sacred devices of holiness we get offended at.

Yes, and those involved with games can take things very seriously, and maybe too much for its own good. Maybe you have regrets that you gave yourself so much to an area of your life, wanting more. Maybe you can have balance in your life.

What I would give an example of taking things just a bit too seriously is Adam Sessler with his Soapbox looking at Red Dead Redemption. He sings on how awesome of an experience the game is, and ends up thinking it is a metaphor for the videogame industry. Really Adam? How about you realize you are involved in an industry that should be making toys for people? How about some fun? I did play though Red Dead Redemption, and thought it decent, but the penultimate experience? I didn't have as much fun as I did with Borderlands. I consider Red Dead decent, but not as much fun as I hoped. I think it is a case of people in the industry hyping things up more out of wish for greater than they are, why a game like Grand Theft Auto IV gets high reviews, but then falling short in the fun area. The Soapbox episode I refer to can be seen here:

So, to sum up, I say game designers ultimately make toys. One can want to do more, and maybe like any toy, the toy can be used for other purposes, but they are toys. The idea is fun here, and what is wrong with that? If you want significance, and meaning, go study philosophy or join a religion. Games are meant to be playthings mainly, and enjoyed and have fun. And isn't a bunch of fun, with flaws, worth more than boring perfection?

And to add one more thing, might it be appropriate also to know that fun IS subjective and tip the hat to a reality that you may not like something, but someone else might, and you could recommend a game to someone, even if it is not your thing? Apparently the person who doesn't like the BGG rating system doesn't think it possible. Can you? I may fall short on this also, but I do try to tip my hat to designs I respect but not really up on playing, because of the game it is. An example with me is Formula Dé, as I am not into dice driven race games, but think the design is brilliant. I also respect Liberté, but am not much for wanting to play it.
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