Your Turn: Why do you play games?

Posted by Jim {Power Gamer} | 18-Nov-13 | 33 comments

Your Turn - A BoardGaming.com Discussion

Hey there, I’m Andrew; game industry professional, reviewer, gamer, fellow Boardgaming.com member and the host of BoardGaming.com’s new discussion series called “Your Turn.”

This is your chance to let us know what YOU think about a variety of topics related to hobby gaming. I’ll start the conversation and then it’s “your turn” to chime in and add to the discussion. Each Your Turn discussion will have a new topic, and we may even have some special guests make a surprise visit down the road. In the meantime…

Why do you play games?

Why do I play games? Specifically, why is it my hobby of choice? I have often asked myself this question and really just haven’t been satisfied with the answer. As far back as Gen Con 1998 (when it was still held in Milwaukee) my brother and I were walking across the street to the convention hall at 8am after a two hour drive, blurry eyed but excited at the prospect of the hundreds of games we were about to see and hopefully play. I stopped in the cross walk and said “Why are we doing this? I mean, why is this what we like to do? Lots of brothers go fishing or sailing, mountain climbing. We are at Gen Con.” My brother, who is very good at simplifying things emotionally, scrunched his face up and said something like: “ It’s what we do. Do you want to go fishing?”

“No.” I said.

I sort of shrugged and shook my head, not satisfied with the answer which really boiled down to: “Because, that’s why.” That explanation wasn’t good enough when I was a kid and I still have trouble with it as an adult.

Tardis travel forward to 2013. I was recently in New York City on business and coincidentally during New York Comic Con. Walking down the streets of Manhattan I pictured Captain America up on a car whacking aliens and the Hulk jumping around onto buildings catching Iron Man before he crashed to earth. It almost seemed like it could have been real. “The Battle of Manhattan!” Heh… cool. Then, I was sitting on the subway when a tweenager with a Captain America hat rushed to get through the subway car doors before they closed. He just made it and I smiled. Then it hit me.

He wants to be like Cap. Wait, I want to be like Cap. I want to do things that I can’t really do like saving NY, or even normal stuff, like flying a plane. It’s not that I want to be a hero, just live an adventure. That’s what gaming is all about for me: wanting to experience everything and sort of… test myself. Can I make it out of the temple alive? Pilot that starship without getting my crew killed? Or even just offer you the best game you ever had so you’ll want to play again? In gaming and in real life, I want to do something just about every day that makes me feel like I accomplished something; whether it’s as a husband, a father, in my job or just doing everyday things like jumping through those subways doors just in time.

“Made it!” Oh ya pal, you did. Nice.

I like immersive thematic games. That’s easy. But in fact I like all kinds of games because each one, thematic, abstract, Euro, Americano, trains, ogres, viruses, mice, wow, you name it offer me that chance at adventure, and make me feel like I’m a little bit better than before I sat down to play – even if I lose. I suspect that many of you might play for different reasons…

Question: Why do you play games? Theme? Competition? Entertainment?

Your turn…

Comments (33)

Gamer Avatar
8
The Gold Heart
Grand Master Grader
Knight-errant

1) I have a natural mind for strategy, reading people, and figuring out how to use systems gain to the best advantage possible, which are 99% of what games are about.
2) I want to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women.
3) It’s a fun way to socialize.

Gamer Avatar
7
USA
I play blue

These are my top 10 reasons for playing games:

10. Fills in dead time looking at game sites, reviews and YouTube reviews.
9. New games coming out every week and I love to collect things
8. I have been doing it since I was 10 or so and habits are hard to break. For 60 years.
7. It keeps my mind sharp.
6. Because I have so many games and if I did not play my wife would kill me.
5. Great way to interact with people an meet new ones.
4. I love to spend time with fiends who are game players.
3. It is another thing I can do with my wife
2. I love dice and cards but not a gambler.
1. You can escape the world for a few hours and immerse yourself in a new persona.

Gamer Avatar
5
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

I was going to say that I play games to be social and spend time with others doing something we all enjoy but I play games by myself too so that isn’t really it.

I started out with board and card games as a kid, stuff my family had and played; Monopoly, Scrabble, Go Fish, War, etc. As a teenager I got into Dungeons & Dragons which blew gaming wide open for me and really made me fall in love with it. Nowadays I play everything from Backgammon to Skyrim and it isn’t all about being social. I think I play video games primarily to relieve stress, there is nothing like slaughtering the minions of evil and saving the innocent to relax my tired brain.

Maybe no one games for just one reason, maybe there are always multiple rewards to gaming, like, the rush of solving challenging puzzles or the laughter and enjoyment of a lively party game or the sense of accomplishment of completing a major quest or story arc in an RPG. I can’t imagine a more fun, varied and adaptable hobby.

Gamer Avatar
5
I Walk the Talk!
Gamer - Level 5
Tinkerer

I personally play games for a better social dynamic. Sometimes sitting around shooting the breeze gets old quick. So introducing a game brings an interesting variable into a social setting whether it be through coop or pure unadulterated f***u buddy! Games… I’m looking at you munchkin.

Gamer Avatar
3
My First Heart

Have always played games since I was a kid.
Began with the uber basic board games, progressed to Chess and other classic strategy games, moved to RPG’s and video games and now reside in the Boardgames genre.

It’s fun to suspend disbelief and experience a world that so much care has gone into creating. It keeps the mind turning and the imagination fresh!

Gamer Avatar
6
Mantis Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
The Bronze Heart

I play games because it feeds my constant need for something to think about. I’ve always enjoyed lore heavy games that let me be fascinated with a world unique and complex but also interactive. Games let me personally escape and ponder the impossible. DnD and l5r probably have shaped my mind in ways that I can’t even fathom. It also brings people who have nothing in common together!

Gamer Avatar
6
The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter

bobb33z3r

Ah then we have lots of mutual friends! We may have even hung at a convention or two. I didn’t do the Black Rider Tour but did do the (dot)HACK tour. Best company and group of people I have ever met. And so even in the industry – its all about socializing!

Gamer Avatar
4
Cryptozoic Entertainment fan
AEG fan

For me in general, it’s all about friends. Many years ago before I knew anything about all these wonderful games, a friend of mine brought over Dominion to play. I was interested enough that I would purchase my own copy of the game and also Zombies!!! From that point on, it was something more like a hobby and something for my friends to play whenever we got bored every week. Looking at it now, I love all the games I get to play and buy just to hang out with my friends and have a good time.

Gamer Avatar
5
USA
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

@b0bb33z3r

Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that I’m giving up on the LCG. I really do enjoy it, and the cards they’ve previewed from the next expansion cycle seem pretty great, so I’m sticking with it. I even have a standing order for all the expansion packs for it and Netrunner, so it’s in good company in my book.

I’m also sure that the version of the SWCCG that exists in my head is an idealized version of the one that existed in reality. Part of that is probably due to nostalgia and part of it is not having played it in nearly a decade and a half.

Gamer Avatar
8
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Subscribed to BG News
Platinum Supporter
Advanced Reviewer

@Wade

Check out the players committee if you’re interested in playing SWCCG still.

http://www.starwarsccg.org/

But don’t write off the LCG just yet (even as you long for the CCG). That game has SOOOO MUCH potential (I just reviewed it here too ;)) I’m really looking forward to where that game goes and FFG makes great games so I’m confident it’s in good hands. 🙂

Gamer Avatar
8
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Subscribed to BG News
Platinum Supporter
Advanced Reviewer

@Andrew L

After being a SWCCG tourny director I went on to being a Rider of Rohan for LOTRTCG. Ran a ton of tourneys in my area. 🙂 Knew most of the guys at Decipher too. 🙂 It was definitely a fun game, it had some issues but overall it was very innovative and competitive. I still have most of my cards actually. 😉 Friends with a lot of the top tier players on the tourney circuit for that game and SWCCG. 🙂

@Wade

Take a look at dollar stores, you may find LOTRTCG packs on the cheap still.

Gamer Avatar
5
USA
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

Andrew L.

That actually sounds pretty awesome. I may have to look into that.

P.S. I didn’t remember the Nazgul even had individual names given in the books, so you’re ahead of me.

Gamer Avatar
6
The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter

Wade

The LOTR CCG was competitive. Each player had a deck half made of Fellowship and half of Shadow – not unlike the SWCCG. There was a site path that was laid out and each location had a special effect. On your turn you tried to advance your Fellowship along the site path and your opponent tried to stop you with baddies. They did the same. (The great mechanic here (Thanks to a man named Tom Litschke) was a shared resource pool called the Twilight Pool. If I played powerful character like Aragorn for example I pay counters into the Twilight pool. In the Shadow phase you would get to play a Nazgul : Say Ulaire Ostea for example (It’s how I learned the actual names of the Nazgul!)) by taking the counters out of the Twilight Pool. So the risk /reward was very balanced. There are a ton of other great things about the game, but the shared recourse pool was a great one. You can grab some starter decks and try it for pretty cheap!

Gamer Avatar
1

I play games because they feed my need for creativity and strategy. I live for those moments when you win and it’s because everything went as planned; like your building something in the moment that isn’t really tangible but can be seen, understood, and appreciated.

That’s why I’ve enjoyed card/board games so much. I play video games also but if you compare them it’s not the same. In terms of social gaming, video gamers tend to be more angry and immature. Video games are also effected by the quality of your equipment and the mechanics of the game tend to require many patches to improve. Video games are much better at telling stories, while card/board games allow you to express yourself more. But, that’s just my opinion :D.

Gamer Avatar
5
USA
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

Andrew L.

I can’t speak for others, but despite my long-standing love of video games, video game-based board/card games generally hold little appeal for me. I love rhe Resident Evil series (well, not so much the last few years’ worth of games, but the older ones), yet the RE deckbuilding game doesn’t interest me. Bioshock is amazing, but I don’t want to play the board game. I think part of it is that they’ll be different experiences that need to be able to stand on their own, but in my mind they’ll always be connected as far as my expectations and standards. That said, there is a Mega Man board game coming up on Kickstarter soon that is very interesting to me, but I’m a huge fan of old school Mega Man, so that’s probably an exception that proves the rule.

As for the Star Wars CCG, it was a great game, but I think it will always hold an even more special place for me as it was really the first game I got into outside of the “traditional” board and card games. I actually didn’t realize there was a LOTR game made by Decipher at the time, but I’m sure it was great too if the design team had anything in common with the SWCCG team. Was it co-op like the current LCG or competitive?

Also, I do play the Star Wars LCG (I even played it earlier tonight, in fact), and it’s a fun game too, but it really feels like an entirely different experience than the Decipher game. Really the only similarities are that they both feature Star Wars characters and are printed on cards. As often happens, when we played tonight, much of the table talk was about the CCG rather than the game we were playing. I don’t mean that as a knock on the LCG or it’s designers. As I said, I enjoy the game quite a lot, but I think it’s indicative of the high quality of the CCG.

Gamer Avatar
6
The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter

Hey folks! I purposefully didn’t chime in too much this time. Reading back over the last “Your Turn” I thought maybe it was too much of “MY turn.” Just a few comments now though.

Urosh and Nigel

Regarding not understanding folks that don’t like to play games, this is most apparent with a significant other. In my case my wife. Weird thing is SHE is in the industry, gets to playtest games, see things before mortal eyes see them and she confesses, she is not a gamer. She likes some games (Tokaido being the most recent) but she doesn’t light up at an unopened box, or get itchy palms when looking at a rule book. I have to accept that. She is amazing and I know that hobby games are my thing. Its a bit easier to understand when its very close to you.
Wade C, Cranekick and Christina
I am seeing a common thread here – with all of you commenting on love of playing video games and this is how you were brought into the hobby.

Question: How do you feel about games based on video games? (Bioshock , Uncharted, and the Resident Evil DBG for example) do they interest you? Make you want to buy them? What place do you think they have in the world of hobby board games? There is an upcoming game from Cryptozoic based on Assassin’s Creed… thoughts?
Another common thread is social interaction. That’s a great reason. One of the best. Interesting things is I think many companies are keying into this making these social interactions less competitive and more cooperative. ( Hence the co-op game craze) In addition storytelling games (and games that are story driven) seem to be on the rise (Mice and Mystics, Winter Tales, Once upon a Time , Fiasco) also games like Resistance, and Coup and many others pit you against your pals in a more psychological battle than one with dice chucking. Now there seem to be many levels of “social” games other than Pictionary and Balderdash.

Wade C and Bobb33z3r

I was fortunate enough to work at Decipher for a few years – was in and around the SWCCG, STCCG and the LOTRCCG and the amazing people that made them. Still work with many former employees in other companies. Not many folks talk about the LOTR CCG – one of the most innovative CCGs I have played – shared resource pool, site path. Very similar to some LCGs played today. But ya – the Star Wars CCG was second to none for a long time. Do you pay the new FFG Star Wars living card game?

Gamer Avatar
9
Gamer - Level 7
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Petroglyph
Explorer - Level 3

For me I have different reasons that vary with the situation. Socially- Most of my friends are gamers of one intensity or another(hardcore to casual). I find standing around chatting about nothing at all at a party to be excrutiatingly boring and want to occupy my mind with something. On an average week I game 2 or 3 days with various friends and aquaintanances. We play games and talk and just generally socialize. Educationally-I have been exposed to a lot of History, viewpoints and just general knowledge that might have bypassed me. A good example is a game called Rythmomachia which was used in past to teach mathematical concepts or Pnefetafl which was the most popular game in Europe prior to the introduction of Chess’s ancestor and which taught basic Viking battle strategy as well as being used as religious allegory. Competition- Ilove to compete, to test my skill and understanding of the game against other players, and afterwords to try to understand what I did wrong or right to be a better player next time. A great game for this is Barbu. There are other reasons like learning the psychology of the players I face over time, and the thrill of learning new games with new concepts or combinations(Keyflower this past year). So there are a myriad of reasons each of which comes into play at different levels of values depending on the group or situation I am involved in.

Gamer Avatar
5
Greater Than Games fan
1A Games fan

Why do I play games, specifically tabletop games?
I used to play a lot of video games but as the games starting going online the social interaction started to die out for me. A few years back I started playing tabletop games and I have enjoyed every moment of it! I still play video games but not as often. Tabletop gaming is social gaming. I have made new friends and even started working for a review company! I’ve went further with my hobby than I ever thought imaginable.

Gamer Avatar
8
I play purple
Football Fan
Movie Lover

Will keep it simple. I LOVE the social interaction that usually comes with board games (some more than others) and the challenge that either my in-person human competition provides and/or the game mechanics provide. Since I’m an “avid” gamer, I tend to like all types of games depending on my mood. Sometimes I want the mental workout, other times the diplomatic skill polishing, & others the roll/draw and see what happens next in the game storyline.

Gamer Avatar
7
Advanced Grader
Novice Reviewer
Knight

As a kid, I always enjoyed video games and as I grew up, my addiction grew and video games demanded a lot more of my time. Most friends that I kept up with were friends that played video games with me. When I finally realized that I needed to back off video games, I realized that board gaming was a good balance of entertainment and socializing.

I’ve never been big into parties (unless someone else is hosting) but having small gatherings was always fun to me. And depending on the board game you play, you don’t have to sink a bunch of time into it.

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