Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Interactivity in Board Games

I used to love board games, but these days I find myself more and more bored with them. There is – in my eyes – a huge design flaw with the majority of board games available to us that almost never appears in computer games. You see, I consider board games to be a way to combine social contact and gaming. Only very few people enjoy playing board games on their own, especially now that you could just get a computer game instead. Why is it then that so many (successful!) board games allow for little to no interaction between the players?

The Settlers of Catan - widely appreciated, but really mostly a single player game.

Take Settlers of Catan for example. On my turn I roll the dice and everyone takes the resource cards that die roll allows them. Then I ponder over my strategy and where to build what, decide on something, do it, and pass the turn. Then all I do until it is my turn again is take resource cards when other people roll the dice and maybe respond to a trade request by something. The actions of the other players hardly interfere with my gameplay at all except that once in a blue moon someone will build a settlement where I wanted to build mine.

Settlers of Catan is hardly isolated in this issue. In the World of Warcraft boardgame one team goes out fighting monsters and planning moves while the others do absolutely nothing until it is their turn. Most of the time both teams just fight the game and have nothing to do with each other. This trend can be found over and over again in board games. I would even go so far as to say that the majority of board games works this way. You play against the board on your turn and then are bored waiting for everyone else until it is your turn again.

Uno is a really simple game but it actually allows you to play with others unlike most other board games.

Playing against the board is so incredibly boring when compared to playing a computer game that I consider it completely futile to try to build any new board game on that idea. What board games need is a way for all players to have fun and be interested at all times, not just when it is their turn. The more complex your vs the board game mechanics are, the more time will be spent simply waiting for others to finish up their planning. I love me a complex game, but it should be complex in the grand scheme of things and not in detail. Your possible actions in a turn of Uno a severly limited by the cards you have in hand, still there is a lot of interaction going on with other players because every move you make effects the others directly and influences their reaction. You can still make interesting strategic decisions, but you don’t have to bore everyone else with them.

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