Monday 3 November 2014

there are no bad games

I have been thinking. I am coming to a realisation that there are no bad games, just games inappropriate for the occasion. Who are you playing with? What are the moods of the players? Their energy level? Their tastes in gaming? How many people are playing? Are you looking for something silly or something serious? Do you want to play competitively or casually? Even brainless games like LCR can be appropriate under certain situations, and I don't mean only "when stupid people play boardgames" (although that's one of the possible situations). When I write about games, I try not to condemn them. I try to think of the situations where they will find good use. Some games don't work for me, and I try to articulate why. Maybe others will like them because their likes and dislikes are different from mine.

I always feel a little uneasy about rating games. Take the BGG rating of a game, say a 7. A 7 is probably a curse. It's not high enough to stand out. It's not low enough to be controversial. It's just average and ignored. Associating a game to one number is bad. The number is technically correct. It's a Bayesian average. However it tells you very little about the game. I certainly had a lot of great moments with games which are 6's or 7's. I had one very funny session of Bremerhaven. After the session, I knew I didn't quite like the game, but we laughed so much that it turned out to be quite a memorable event. By now I don't remember a lot about Bremerhaven itself, but I remember we had a hoot playing it. Playing games is not just about playing "good" games, it is about having fun, laughing, scheming, and even screaming at your friends.

Our crazy game of Bremerhaven.

When we buy games, I think the first instinct is to evaluate whether the game we are considering is a "good" game. Good games go to the wish list or watch list, average games go to the dismiss pile. However, the intrinsic "goodness" of a game may not be all that important after all. I think it's more important to consider who you usually play with, and whether the game you plan to buy will be enjoyed in your group.

I'm mostly rambling and I'm not sure what conclusion I'm heading towards. I guess what I'm saying is there are no definitely bad games and what is important is identifying the right game for the occasion. Having a multi-faceted game library with many options certainly helps.


Aik Yong said...

Yeah, nowadays I tend to rate games by either:
1) Good or
2) Exceedingly average

There aren't really any bad games! Bad games don't really get played or fall into our games radar. So either I find something that I like or not - hence group 1) or 2)

tang tang said...

you must have played alot of games to reach such an epiphany. Respectz Upz!