Friday, 6 July 2007

WHY DO I PLAY GAME?

This is my first blog, so, be gentle. :)

I came from a background of reading gamebook when I was young. Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf and others fueled my imaginations before I moved on to SF & Fantasy fiction later. Never did play RPG but tried one session before, never into the Magic CCG, played some computer games like everyone else but not a hardcore.

My first foray into the boardgame was when I was reading George R.R. Martin’s fantastic “Game of Throne”; there is an ad at the back of the book introducing the boardgame version published by Fantasy Flight. Intrigued, I searched their website and in the process discovered BoardGameGeek.com; and the rest, as they say, are history.

It is in the BGG that I met Hiew, I have email contacts with him for nearly a year before we finally met up in person when he came back from Taiwan. Since then, we are having almost regular weekly gaming sessions if time permits (But it’s never enough time).

Back to the question: why do I play game?

It’s a rhetoric question but as with all creative human activities; why do we read book? Why do we watch movies? Why do we listen to music? Dances? Opera?

Because we human always wanted to experience more. More than our ordinary life can offer where we can break away from the routine of daily living, working, dosmetic chores ….. We need an escapade and respite from our mundanity, a few hours and an imaginative world where we can immerse and lost ourselves in.

Every form of art will try to achieve this. And every form of art will have its unique features in which we will enjoy them. As for boardgame, it’s an intellectual exercise (in a fun way) with decision angst. A good boardgame will provide a clear rule set with strong mechanism and theme in which a player will face difficult decisions in every turn and every action/movement. But with good play and planning and perhaps some luck, the more skilled player will be able to orchestra a good strategic move in overcoming his opponent or the game.

Decision angst is sweet. When to attack? Now or build up some more? How much to bid? What to get? …… There are never enough resources or actions to do all you want. You always need to balance things and re-evaluate the situation. And since this is just a game, you can approach it however you like, aggressively, high-risk gambling, balanced strategy (all-rounder), opportunistic, long-term build-up… it’s almost like approaching life itself with a different philosophy each time you played a game. And unlike real life, you can see the effect immediately or later at the end of the game whether you made a right decision or not; and if you lose, no problem, there is always the next game, and hopefully we have became wiser and have fun in the process.

People always try to categorize and stereotype other people by their occupation. And in my case when people ask me what do I do? Instead of telling them my job, I wish to tell that I play game. It sounds good and convey a nice image of myself (of course in own opinion, that is. Some people still thinks that playing game is childish)

It’s as a good a hobby as any you can think of. It’s fun; provide good social and family interaction. It has been said, playing is the highest form of human creative invention; and so I said, let’s play a game, shall we?

6 comments:

wankongyew said...

Heh, I got started with gamebooks as well. I remember that I first discovered a copy of Lone Wolf 1: Flight from the Dark in the library of my primary school and never stopped. My favourite gamebooks are the ones from the Duel Master series by Mark Smith and Jamie Thompson which were a matched pair of gamebooks that pitted two players against each other, but I never could find someone to play against.

I soon moved on to RPGs however and the weekly Games columns by A. Asohan in The Star was a great help for this. I managed to turn a small group in the English Language Society (of which I was Vice-President) of my high school into a role-playing games group. (The teachers believed me when I said it was educational.)

I continued to play RPGs a bit while I was studying in university in France but I mostly played Magic: The Gathering then plus a tiny bit of the Games Workshop boardgames. I was always vaguely aware of the Avalon Hill boardgames but never actually found anyone who played them.

Since then I've mostly played PC games and we've only just started playing board games for real this year.

wankongyew said...

Incidentally, if you liked the Song of Ice & Fire series, have you ever tried any of the Wild Cards stuff? I first started reading them in high school and found them fantastic (though I understand the new ones are crap). I particularly enjoyed the characters and stories written by George R.R. Martin himself (the Great and Powerful Turtle!)

Hiew Chok Sien said...

I bought a few 2nd-hand Wild Cards books very cheaply. I think probably Book 3 or later. I read only the first few chapters of one of them, and quickly lost interest. I don't even remember who the authors were, but I'm sure it wasn't George R R Martin himself. Which books in the Wild Cards series are good? From which books onwards do they suck?

wankongyew said...

I liked Books 1 to 6. You can refer to the Wikipedia page which has some details on who wrote which character (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Cards)

Generally I liked the stories by all the acknowledged greats of the genre, eg. Howard Waldrop, Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams. Melinda Snodgrass writes awful angst-ridden stuff and I think the series took a nosedive after she took over editorial duties after Martin left.

Of course, Wild Cards is mainly fun action adventure, so don't expect to find Ice and Fire style political intrigue in here. It also works better if you have a passing familiarity with American history since it presents an alternative reality history of how things have been changed due to having superheroes being around to influence society.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Thanks for the tip. Maybe I will give the Wild Cards series another chance. :-) I'm pretty sure I have some books within 1 - 6.

Your description reminds me a lot of Watchers too, the comic series about superheroes which was recently made into a movie. I read the comics recently and liked it.

wankongyew said...

/puts comic book nerd hat on

It's "Watchmen". Not "The Watchmen" and certainly not "Watcher". Just "Watchmen".

I know a guy who deliberately calls it "The Watchmen" just to see comic book nerd fly into a nerd rage.

/takes comic book nerd hat off