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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Why do people play games? rss

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Richard Hutnik
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There has been a bunch of debate in the subcategories regarding what fits or doesn't and what the subcategories should be. There have been others who said they should be done away with, and games are just games. Well, I am thinking all this touches on a topic would going over. The question would be: Why do people play games? By understanding this, maybe the way to categorize games would be able to be found, and also better understanding of what people like or don't could be understood also.

Anyhow, please feel free to comment on this, and add your own. As I see it I see these as the reasons why people play games:
* To test or improve skill
* Social interaction
* Form of escape

In test or improve skills, players would play a game because they have an interest in doing things that is likely attached to their identity, and they want to develop it. This could be dexterity, strategy, resource management, or anything else like vocabulary. Winning and beating others can fit into this to, in the area of being tested. In cooperative games, the desire to improve skills may factor in (I would say that a cooperative game would carry between this and social interaction). Yes, ego can fit in here, particularly with test, where a player wants to think they are the best at something. The measure of success can either be against people, or oneself.

In social interaction, players seek to get together in order to be with other people, and have a good time. The goal here is to have good relationships between people, get laughs and enjoy being with others. Games are a vehicle to get together. One can see in games of negotiating, and cooperation (like Pandemic) a game would end up resting in this AND the test skills as the skills involved relate to social interaction. In this competitive version, you would run into also a game like Diplomacy where the social interaction is hostile, and that is a good time for someone.

As a form of escape, players play the game to get their mind off their current situation in life, and either do things they can't do (but want to), or get an entirely different experience, and have novelty of being surprised. If a person has an attachment to a particular piece of fiction, the game enables them to interact with this.

Ok, this is my most recent take on this. Anyone else want to add their take, and maybe help correct what I wrote, to get something that reflects things better? And if this works well, maybe we can look at the subdomains and have high or low related to how well they meet the reasons why people play.
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Richard Hutnik
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Here are categories of games, and my take on how they rate in the different areas:

Category : Skills : Social interaction : Form of escape
------------------+-----------+---------------------+----------------
Abstract strategy : High : Low : Low
Euros : Mod-High : Low-Mod : Low-Mod
Wargames : High : Low-Mod : Mod-High
Waros/Weuros : Mod-High : Low-Mod : Mod
Empire building : High : Low-High : Mod-High
CCGs : High : Low-Mod : Mod
Miniatures : Mod-High : Low-Mod : High
Economic : High : Low-Mod : Mod-High
Simulations : High : Low-High (context) : High
Ameritrash : Low-Mod : Mod-High : High
Negotiate/Dip : High : High : Mod
Party games : Low-Mod : High : High
Filler games : Low : Mod : Mod
Press luck : Low : Mod : Mod
Gambling : Low : Mod : High
Poker : Mod-High : Mod : High
Card : Mod : Mod : Low-Mod
Puzzle games : High : Low : Low
Deduction : High : Low-High (context) : Low
Word : High : Low-Mod : Low
Athletic sports : High : Mod-High (context) : Mod
Role playing : Mod : High : High (Highest)
Video/arcade : Mod-High : Low-Mod (context) : High
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Richard Hutnik
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thereofone wrote:
Games reward pattern recognition, large chunks of our gray matter work towards pattern recognition.


I would say that some games fit this, but how about a game like LRC Card Game or particularly the dice game version of it? I don't see where pattern recognition fits into a press your luck game. And yes, LRC is a game some people find fun.
 
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euronoob

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This reminds me of the old theory of "the 4 types of MMO players" which I think translates well here, too. The original 4 (googling about, I see someone has 5, and someone has 8, so, those are either variants or refinements, I guess) were

1) Achiever
2) Explorer
3) Socializer
4) Killer

I think that fits here, too. Probably not just why people play games, but what games they choose to play (and maybe for Explorer types, how many games they play...or buy).

Here's the original theory:

http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm
 
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CJ
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I play to pick up chicks.
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Patrick Hanley
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I've never heard anyone say "I play game "X" because I want to develop my resource management skills".

Games are just plain fun.
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Derry Salewski
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docreason wrote:
thereofone wrote:
Games reward pattern recognition, large chunks of our gray matter work towards pattern recognition.


I would say that some games fit this, but how about a game like LRC Card Game or particularly the dice game version of it? I don't see where pattern recognition fits into a press your luck game. And yes, LRC is a game some people find fun.


It really is not a game based on the definition of a game.

People are allowed to find activities fun, the last time I checked, though.

Anyway, your first two criteria mesh together in a fairly appealing way. You could rephrase them to be 'examining oneself through oneself' and 'examining oneself through others' if you wanted. Or maybe a better way would be 'looking to find out something about oneself' and 'looking to find out something about others.'

The third one seems to be a narrow section of something larger though. 'Form of escape' just sounds weird compared to the other two. It doesn't allow for research, or education. for one. It also doesn't allow for exploring something that's a part of your life anyway (A history professor playing historical games, maybe.) So I guess if I were to try and rephrase the idea you're looking for (and get at anyway!) in terms of how you've made me think about the other ones, it would be something like 'Examining oneself through a theme' or 'looking to find out something about a theme.'

Theme might not be the best word. But this allows for 'what would it be like if I were an elf?' or 'what was it like to have an army in the American Civil War?'

So I guess maybe I am thinking that a broad answer to your question about why people play games could be 'to find answers.'

I'm not sure it's the best way to try to categorize games, though. I immediately think of Magic: the Gathering as a game that can easily be used to achieve any of your three goals. I also wonder if thinking about Mark Rosewater's 'Timmy, Johnny, Spike' triangle might be instructive here. While it's specific to Magic, I'd bet it has broader applications.

Or the answer could be 'for pleasure,' and your categories might be thought of as 'finding pleasure in oneself,' 'finding pleasure in others' and 'finding pleasure in a theme' (again, that word theme is bugging me!)

So yeah. People will keep asking questions. And talking about the answers will always be interesting, even if they seem elusive!

 
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David Harvey
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Because im a sad lonely individual with an obessive personality, and can break a game out to engage in less awkward than normal social interaction.

Naw just kidding, I personally just play for a bit of fun or something interesting to do
 
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Max Maloney
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Compared to many other forms of entertainment, particularly things like movies and tv shows, I find games more mentally engaging. I like to be doing something and thinking about what I'm doing.

Board games add the bonuses of hanging out with friends face-to-face (so easily avoided with computer games/online play) and the satisfaction of looking at and handling tactile components. The things that I like most about board games often make me wonder why people use BSW; I'd rather just play a video game at that point. Oops, tangent alert!
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Henrik Havighorst
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I do like the social aspect of gaming, how human traits translate into situations "created" by the boardgames, be it coop, competitive or else. That being said, I do not enjoy playing with people how are not playing for social reasons. HX
 
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Richard Hutnik
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euronoob wrote:
This reminds me of the old theory of "the 4 types of MMO players" which I think translates well here, too. The original 4 (googling about, I see someone has 5, and someone has 8, so, those are either variants or refinements, I guess) were

1) Achiever
2) Explorer
3) Socializer
4) Killer

I think that fits here, too. Probably not just why people play games, but what games they choose to play (and maybe for Explorer types, how many games they play...or buy).

Here's the original theory:

http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm


I was looking to cluster achiever with killer in what I was looking at, and I had explorer replaced with fantasy/escape (meaning person plays to get away from reality).

That article does look close to what I was looking at, as a way to look at the subdomains on here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/528056/ideas-for-categor...

Particularly the graph they had in the article on MUDs. Perhaps there is a connection between exploring and escapism. Not sure how with a boardgame you fully get exploring, but maybe the connection of exploring and escapism involves immersion into some other world.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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scifiantihero wrote:

The third one seems to be a narrow section of something larger though. 'Form of escape' just sounds weird compared to the other two. It doesn't allow for research, or education. for one. It also doesn't allow for exploring something that's a part of your life anyway (A history professor playing historical games, maybe.) So I guess if I were to try and rephrase the idea you're looking for (and get at anyway!) in terms of how you've made me think about the other ones, it would be something like 'Examining oneself through a theme' or 'looking to find out something about a theme.'


I would be up for replacing escape with immersion. Immersion is a bit more broad and involves having one's mind captivated into something for whatever reason. The focus goes outward into the game environment. Doing this would also allow for room for why people play games for money they have no chance of really winning. Buying a lottery ticket is a chance for a person to end up thinking what it is like to get a new life and become rich, and living in a fantasy of sorts. I believe nostalgia would also lead into this. Of course, someone may end up also play in a game world, or with a toy, to get their mind on that, instead of something else.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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Dormammu wrote:
Compared to many other forms of entertainment, particularly things like movies and tv shows, I find games more mentally engaging. I like to be doing something and thinking about what I'm doing.

Board games add the bonuses of hanging out with friends face-to-face (so easily avoided with computer games/online play) and the satisfaction of looking at and handling tactile components. The things that I like most about board games often make me wonder why people use BSW; I'd rather just play a video game at that point. Oops, tangent alert!


I do believe boardgames are challenged on the immersion/escape gratifying angle by movies and particularly videogames. There is a social element to boardgames that is unmatched by videogames. Immersion here would mean being mentally immersed in the game environment, as opposed to immersed in one's own thoughts. I would say that there is an element of environmental control in this also.
 
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