The Rookery

Madeline's thoughts on social deduction games, forum/community meta, and any other philosophical musings
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The Liberty Behind Deliberation

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No mountains, no valleys
Never argue with idiots; they'll drag you down to their level and then beat you on experience.
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Name the game (and no fair cheating if you clicked through from "blog posts this game appears in"): a co-op in which multiple players have numeric-valued objects in their hands they are trying to legally play, and have to deduce their teammates' intentions from the way they play their objects.


The other day I was relaxing while other people played a socially-stimulating game, and I asked myself, "why is it that I sometimes have energy to do X and not Y?" This sounds like it could be an unanswerable question: sometimes you have enough energy to do X, but not enough energy to do thing Y, because Y is more draining than X, and because the amount of energy you have available varies on a day-to-day basis, and the amount of energy you have remaining after doing other things also varies, and that's just the way it is, the end. However, this wasn't a satisfying answer, because I felt as if I had a decent amount of energy available to me; if someone had asked whether I wanted to play a "brain burner" game, I might have said yes. (Then again, it depends, I'm not in the mood for every game of equal complexity.)

But later, an astute comment that BGGer doctorbirdbirdster had made some time ago reoccurred to me. He'd said something like "Madeline, I can see why games such as PBF werewolf appeal to you, because you can post asynchronously in thoughtful, argumentative paragraphs, and that plays to your strengths really well. Whereas I [birdster] tend to prefer more real-time, fluid social games, because that's a better fit for my skill set." It wasn't a super surprising observation--different people have different strengths, and that can lead them to develop different interests!--yet I obviously found it deep, because it stuck with me.

I think for me, games or activities that might seem "light" or "unstructured" or "more social" drain a different "energy reservoir" than my main, "structured," "deliberate" system. If I'm asking myself "there's no win condition written down, when does it end? am I going to be here all night? what if my contribution is worthless? what if I'm not doing anything in the game?," then I know I'm going to get stressed out, and that's going to take a toll on me pretty quickly, because that energy pool doesn't have much in it to start. Whereas with something where I know the rules and I know what I can do (or try) on my turn, and that the other players have similar constraints, I'm better able to put forth energy--sometimes a lot, over a long time.

What activities fall into the "main pool" versus "alternate pool" isn't always predictable. I was thinking later that something like karaoke, which I've done at a few conventions, is obviously not a game with winning conditions. But it does have a sense of structure and turn-taking--"X is going now, but then it will be my turn." And sometimes it has weird "unwritten rules" that are stressful to deduce--"Y might be fine if other people sing along with him, but Z wants to sing her parody lyrics, so don't drown her out." So it probably draws upon both of those energies, for me.

The good news is now that I see these trends, I can hopefully know when to take a break and relax so I don't get halfway into an unfun game before I realize I hate it. I don't need other people to pause what they're doing and choose something more to my tastes, I'm able to take responsibility for my own enjoyment. But it's nice for me to be able to note this so I'm not busy asking "but why am I tired."


To answer the trivia question: that high-level description was supposed to apply both to The Shipwreck Arcana and The Mind. Because of their similarities, I can see for how some people, they would occupy similar mental niches or drain the same types of energies. For me, though, they're at two drastically different ends of a spectrum--Shipwreck Arcana is very, very much "my kind of thing, will almost always have energy to play it," and The Mind is very much "this sounds terrible, why would anyone want to do this, you guys go play it and have fun but I'm going to be eating snacks, bye!"
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