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Subject: Gaming sessions: choice vs no choice rss

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Terry
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carlsbad
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I noticed an interesting thing when I was looking back at past gaming sessions over the last couple of years: the less choice of games that we had during the session, the more I enjoyed the session overall.

On those evenings where we sat down and stared at a rack of 500+ games, the overall enjoyment of the evening seemed less to me, even though presumably everyone had more input into what game was to be played next. It's pretty exhausting to look at 500 games and discard 490 of them in your mind.

We recently have experimented with having a "game czar", where a single player chooses the games during a session, and those games can't really be voted down unless there's a very good reason. It turns out that so far all of those sessions have been very successful. Clearly we all choose games that we believe will be acceptable to everyone.

I think that part of it is that a large part of the enjoyment on any given evening comes from playing a game that perhaps you aren't entirely comfortable or familiar with or even feel like playing when it's first brought out. I think we all carry faulty or superficial preconceptions about individual games based on a single experience in the past.

Has anyone else noticed this effect of "less choice is better"? Does your group have games picked out before you play, or does the group collectively stare at the collection and choose one?
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more can indeed be better.


There are exceptions of course. For me, if I were staring at a wall of 500 social/party games, wargames, or typical ameritrash games, then the choices would be more painful (but honestly, not THAT much more) since I'm primarily a eurogamer.


This is one reason I'm not interested in Chinatown. This is a game that's fully about "wheeling and dealing". This is what some of my groups do anyways when we're trying to decide what game to play. I'd rather my energy be used to decide and convince others on WHAT to play, rather then DURING play. Another more subtle reason is I suck at it anyways.


However, I have been privy into people's homes and conventions where a wall of games have presented theirselves. Mixed blessings. Usually, someone just says "let's play this game". I play it, and end up enjoying it. They're not blind game grabs, as they're stuff like Tier Auf Tier or Goa. They're not curveballs like Diplomacy. But then you go to a place like a gaming convention where if either ends of the extremes present themselves (people don't care what to play and also can't decide vs people who are very adamant about a few specific games)... then THAT's annoying. Half the time, I've had "in between situations" where we decide on a game fairly quickly. This is after a quick scan of every game, but nothing in detail. THAT would take too long.
 
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Jack Defevers
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Fort Thomas
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It's a recognized phenomenon. Here's a Scientific American article on the "Tyranny of Choice."
 
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B C Z
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Try this on for size:

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/lang/eng/barry_schwartz_o...
 
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Terry
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carlsbad
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Thanks for the links; fascinating psychology.
 
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Tim Thomas
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Long live the Gaming Czar!
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carlsbad wrote:
I noticed an interesting thing when I was looking back at past gaming sessions over the last couple of years: the less choice of games that we had during the session, the more I enjoyed the session overall.

On those evenings where we sat down and stared at a rack of 500+ games, the overall enjoyment of the evening seemed less to me, even though presumably everyone had more input into what game was to be played next. It's pretty exhausting to look at 500 games and discard 490 of them in your mind.
So, less analysis paralysis makes the session fun.

Seems obvious to me.
 
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